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The development of inflatable array antennasInflatable array antennas are being developed to significantly reduce the mass, the launch vehicle's stowage volume, and the cost of future spacecraft systems. Three inflatable array antennas, recently developed for spacecraft applications, are a 3.3 m x 1.0 m L-band synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) array, a 1.0 m-diameter X-band telecom reflectarray, and a 3 m-diameter Ka-band telecom reflectarray. All three antennas are similar in construction, and each consists of an inflatable tubular frame that supports and tensions a multi-layer thin-membrane RF radiating surface with printed microstrip patches. The L-band SAR array achieved a bandwidth of 80 MHz, an aperture efficiency of 74%, and a total mass of 15 kg. The X-band reflectarray achieved an aperture efficiency of 37%, good radiation patterns, and a total mass of 1.2 kg (excluding the inflation system). The 3 m Ka-band reflectarray achieved a surface flatness of 0.1 mm RMS, good radiation patterns, and a total mass of 12.8 kg (excluding the inflation system). These antennas demonstrated that inflatable arrays are feasible across the microwave and millimeter-wave spectrums. Further developments of these antennas are deemed necessary, in particular, in the area of qualifying the inflatable structures for space-environment usage.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Huang, J.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 2001
Publication Information
Publication: IEEE Antennas & Propagation Magazine
Volume: 43
Issue: 4
ISSN: 1045-9243
Subject Category
Electronics And Electrical Engineering
Distribution Limits
Inflatable array antennas

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