Skip to main content

The first Large European Antenna with a diameter larger than 5 meters

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LEA (The first Large European Antenna with a diameter larger than 5 meters)

Période du rapport: 2017-11-01 au 2018-10-31

Terrestrial demands on space missions are increasing rapidly in terms of complexity, technology and velocity. Next to navigation (GPS, GALILEO), science (investigation of space and the universe) and exploration (ISS, Mars), two types of space missions are very important for Europe: Earth Observation (EO, for the sustainability of nature and mankind) and Telecommunication (TC, for business and global connectivity), with both serving civil and defense purposes.
Each mission requires partly unique technologies, which are produced by only very few global suppliers. If these technologies are not available from within Europe, there is a danger that non-dependant missions may not be performed, created and tailored with a consequent loss of sovereignty in political decisions and a loss of market shares.
One of these so-called “Critical Technologies” is the “Large Deployable Reflector (LDR)”. Packed in stowed configurations, these reflectors can be accommodated on satellites, which then still comply with the limited launcher fairing volumes. By enlarging the size of the reflector, it is possible to offer higher sensitivity and resolution (e.g. for radar missions) and to implement stronger communication links for e.g. higher data throughput (TC).
Within the upcoming eight years the demand for such reflectors will increase worldwide, whereas the consortium targets a certain market share with its “Large European Antenna (LEA)”.
Several parties in the LEA consortium have been continuously working for many years on developing the necessary technologies and test methods to achieve a non-dependant situation for Europe and to compete with non-European entities in this technology. Numerous national activities and ESA-projects ranging from component up to subsystem level, from arms to reflectors, from hinges to mesh, have been conducted, reaching an average TRL 5 in 2017.
The proposed H2020 project would now enable the combination of all these technologies and the joining of further European entities to fill the remaining gaps and form one strong and complete European team. Through obtaining an EC-grant for LEA, each building block will be upgraded with innovation, adapted to a scenario and qualified to meet one common target, namely 1st European PFM reaching TRL 8 to be ready for integration by the end of 2020 and for flight in 2021.
The PFM (Protoflight Model) of LEA’s “Deployable Reflector Subsystem” will consist of two main building blocks: “Reflector Assembly” and “Arm Assembly”. In addition to the development of the PFM, the LEA-project will investigate potential satellite accommodations and interfaces. Electronics (and associated software) for the deployment motors, heaters and sensors will be developed on an EM-level (Engineering Model). Finally, the LEA project will enable the development of important test methods for these large deployable antenna structures with associated MGSE (Mechanical Ground Support Equipment).
During the 1st reporting period, LEA achievements are:
1) Successful identification and selection of potential applications for the LEA-PFM including potential reference missions and flight opportunities for earth observation, telecom applications, science, and exploration;
2) Identification of the requirements for the subsystems applicable for the design, analysis, manufacturing and testing activities performed in the frame of the LEA project for the PFM model of the Deployable Antenna System;
3) Successful achievement of the preliminary designs of the LEA subsystems and an overview of the compliance with the defined requirements;
4) Definition of critical breadboards and test definitions related to the LEA subsystems and assessment of critical items and derived critical breadboards;
5) Identification and preliminary definition of the test campaign and inspections/measurements of the Deployable Antenna System during and after assembly and integration activities.
With the respect to the progress beyond state of art, LEA contributes, in a general term, to the dependency on US or Asian technologies and focus the fully European development of a LDA product.
The main progress beyond the current SoA is therefore seen in the system-oriented development and qualification of a deployable antenna system taking into account all related building blocks from subsystems to assembly level and system interfaces. This approach is seen as absolutely novel and unique within Europe and mandatory for a successful outcome of the LEA project.