Oxford Space Systems (OSS), in collaboration with the Advanced Textiles Research Group, has explored the design, development and characterisation of a novel metal knitted-mesh reflector surface, together with new computerised flat-bed knitting manufacturing technology, for deployable space antennas aimed at the microsat commercial earth monitoring and telecoms market. The material must demonstrate high mechanical flexibility, good thermal stability and acceptable RF reflective properties. The project specifically targeted operation at Ka-band and above, where conventional metal warp knitted mesh surfaces struggle to meet performance and cost requirements. There currently exists no commercially available, ITAR-free, space compatible material that meets the emerging requirements of the identified market for higher data throughput and thus higher frequency of operation. Such a technology is required to form the basis of space-to-ground data links as well as spacecraft-to-spacecraft (M2M) data relay links.
This project is conducted in collaboration with Oxford Space Systems and was funded by Innovate UK under project number 103759 and European Space Agency project number 4000122820/18/NL/MM.