A report describes recent progress in a continuing effort to develop large reflectarray antennas to be deployed in space. Major underlying concepts were reported in two prior NASA Tech Briefs articles: "Inflatable Reflectarray Antennas" (NPO-20433), Vol. 23, No. 10 (October 1999), page 50 and "Tape-Spring Reinforcements for Inflatable Structural Tubes" (NPO-20615), Vol. 24, No. 7 (July 2000), page 58. To recapitulate: An antenna as proposed would include a reflectarray membrane stretched flat on a frame of multiple tubular booms that would be deployed by inflation. The instant report discusses design concepts and relevant basic mechanical principles. Among the concepts are alternative configurations of booms for holding the reflectarray membrane and its radio-frequency feed horn and the use of catenaries and constant-force springs to stretch the reflectarray membrane on the frame at the required tension. Some emphasis is placed on the need to keep the deployed frame rigid without depending on maintenance of inflation in the presence of impinging micrometeors that could cause leaks: for this purpose, the booms could be made as spring-tape-reinforced aluminum laminate tubes like those described in the second-mentioned prior article.

This work was done by Houfei Fang, Michael Lou, and John Huang of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NPO-30662


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Self-Inflatable/Self-Rigidizable Reflectarray Antenna

(reference NPO30662) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the January, 2004 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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