Oxford Space and SSTL unveil Wrapped Rib SAR antenna

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SAN FRANCISCO – The United Kingdom’s Oxford Space Systems and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. completed construction of a deployable, Wrapped Rib antenna for small synthetic aperture radar satellites.

OSS designed the 3-meter parabolic reflector to stow compactly during transportation. SSTL supplied the high bandwidth radar instrument and radio frequency electronics.

With funding for the project from the U.K. Space Agency’s National Space Technology Programme, the companies have tested the antenna, which could be demonstrated in orbit as early as 2023.

The Wrapped Rib antenna is sized for SSTL’s CarbSAR platform. CarbSAR is a 140-kilogram X-band SAR technology demonstration satellite to showcase radar applications for defense and security, maritime, disaster response, environmental and infrastructure customers.

OSS already is “seeing strong international customer interest for this product,” OSS Chief Executive Sean Sutcliffe said in a statement.

Andrew Haslehurst, SSTL chief technology officer, said in a statement that SSTL embedded the SAR electronics into its core avionics to simplify the antenna architecture.

That feature “combined with the impressive stowage volume of the Wrapped Rib has enabled SSTL to develop a very capable CarbSAR product providing high resolution X-band SAR imaging capabilities day, night and whatever the weather,” Haslehurst added.

The U.K. Space Agency provides funding for companies like OSS and SSTL “to deliver new space capabilities that will help us tackle challenges, including disaster monitoring, urban planning and transport management,” Paul Bate, U.K. Space Agency chief executive, said in a statement.

To test the deployable reflector, OSS worked with QuadSAT. QuadSAT’s drone-based measurement system removes “the complexity normally associated with testing large space deployable antennas which are subject to gravitational effects,” Carlo Rizzo, QuadSAT chief commercial officer, said in a statement.