By Josh Rhoten
A group of students from the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering have developed a compactable antenna that could allow for more powerful radio communications from the small satellites of the future.
Developed as a 2022 senior design project for Lockheed Martin Space, the team’s prototype is a deployable helical antenna that starts in a compressed state, improving upon current satellite antenna hardware that is fully deployed upon launch. After activation in space, the prototype’s antenna component extends to four times its compressed height for full functionality.
The aerospace industry is seeking to shrink the overall size of satellites while retaining or improving on their capabilities. Doing so would not only speed production from decades to years, but could also lower the cost of production.