Ka-Band Electronically Steered CubeSat Antenna

Period of Performance: 06/10/2016 - 12/09/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Kymeta Government Solutions
12277 134th Ct NE
Redmond, WA 98052
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Research Topics


Kymeta Government Solutions (KGS) recently designed, analyzed, built, tested, and delivered a small, lightweight, low-cost, low-power electronically steered prototype antenna for use on CubeSat antennas in low Earth orbit. Like all Kymeta/KGS metamaterial antenna systems, this antenna uses a tunable dielectric material and an array of radiating elements to create an interference pattern that steers the beam in the desired direction. This method provides moderate gain without the use of mechanical steering and similar functional performance to a traditional phased array at a fraction of the size, weight, power, and cost (SWAP-C). This prototype antenna meets RF performance goals but was designed as a proof of concept lab test unit with no environmental requirements. As a result, it needs a variety of minor modifications to be capable of surviving launch, to be capable of operating in the space atmosphere, and to better integrate into a CubeSat. This Phase I proposal focuses on the design of four updates to the antenna aperture to better meet requirements in the installed environment. Survivability during launch will be increased by a modification of the antenna-to-drive electronics connectors as well as the addition of two new bolts between the waveguide and radiating cell board; a redesign of the radiating cell will improve observed performance parameters during operation at temperature; and a modification of the waveguide will minimize the antenna footprint in a 3U CubeSat. If awarded, Phase I deliverables will include analysis and simulations of expected results, as well as a plan for fabrication and verification of the design during Phase II. If awarded Phase II, KGS would build and test the antennas designed in Phase I; if this testing indicates that the designs perform as expected based on analysis, the antenna itself would be ready to go to space.