Lightweight reflector dishes for radio antennas would be mass-produced cheaply by spin casting of polymers, according to a proposal. These reflector dishes were conceived for compact stowage followed by deployment and operation aboard spacecraft, but might also be useful on Earth in applications in which there are requirements for extremely light weight and stowability but not for highly precise reflector shape.

The spin-cast reflector dishes would be thin and flexible, and thus foldable for compact stowage. In some applications, it could be desirable to rigidize the dishes after deployment. This could be done, for example, by making dishes of an ultraviolet-curable polymer and exposing them to ultraviolet light (e.g., as part of sunlight) immediately after deployment. Alternatively, dishes could be made of a material with a glass-transition temperature above that of the deployment environment; after deployment, these dishes would be allowed to cool naturally, so that they would be rigidized by the rubber-to-glass transition.

This work was done by Celeste Satter of Caltech and Dan Marker of the Directed Energy Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


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Lightweight reflector dishes would be made by spin casting

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This article first appeared in the February, 2000 issue of Electronics Tech Briefs Magazine.

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