Strain-rigidised wideband conical helix antenna for cubesat deployment

G. C. Kirkby, B. Tester, M. Angling, M. McCallum, C. Jackson, A. G. Lund, S. Creiche, A. G. Lima

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Abstract: CubeSats are an increasingly popular platform for scientific applications in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). However their size limitations make long-range radio communications and applications requiring large structural elements difficult to implement. Inflatable Structures are one way to overcome this, but they have inherent issues such as vulnerabilities to micrometeorite impacts and low structural strength. Metal-Polymer Strain rigidisation, as used by NASA in the 1960s, is one way to mitigate these issues. The PICARD (Prototype Inflatable Conical Antenna-REXUS Deployment) experiment aims to build upon this technology. If fabricated with the metal layer covering only part of the surface, a structure can still rigidise when strained; however the individual, separate metallic elements could be used for electronic communications across inflatable structural sections, or as part of an antenna. The inflatable structure considered in PICARD is a wideband conical helix antenna, that was proposed for the WISCER [Wideband Ionospheric Sounder CubeSat Experiment] mission. WISCER is a precursor to space-based Earth-Observation radar systems: the mission aims to characterise the impact of the ionosphere on future UHF radar systems. To test the performance of the antenna structure in a space-like environment, the PICARD experiment will be launched aboard a REXUS sounding rocket (courtesy of DLR & SNSB) to an altitude of 90km altitude, achieving a miligravity time of around 140 seconds. The primary goal is characterisation of the deployment behaviour while the secondary goal is of the validation of the deployed antenna performance. The test will also provide information on how the antenna inflates, settles and rigidises.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication66th International Astronautical Congress 2015, IAC 2015
Subtitle of host publicationSpace - The Gateway for Mankind's Future
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781510818934
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Event66th International Astronautical Congress 2015: Space - The Gateway for Mankind's Future, IAC 2015 - Jerusalem, Israel
Duration: 12 Oct 201516 Oct 2015


Conference66th International Astronautical Congress 2015: Space - The Gateway for Mankind's Future, IAC 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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