Due to the limited space available on these satellites, it is very important that the size and weight of the component is optimal, as well as its electromagnetic response, as this will determine all on-board systems, such as telemetry, telecontrol, navigation and data transfer with the ground.
To reduce the weight and improve the performance of antennas, additive manufacturing techniques open up new possibilities in the sector, as they allow the development of components with very complex shapes that can be manufactured without any problem. In addition, it also allows the number of fasteners such as screws or anchors to be reduced to a minimum, thus reducing the weight and logistics required to obtain perfect alignment and closure between the parts that make up a system.
Finally, it is also worth noting that additive manufacturing reduces the amount of waste, as it uses metal powder that is reusable, making this manufacturing method also more environmentally sustainable. This aspect is becoming a key point on the world scene as the increase in satellites and current developments in space mean that strong recovery, recycling and sustainability policies linked to the sector need to be established.
With all this in mind, the project aims to develop communications systems implemented through additive manufacturing that are also more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
A radiant chain for the transfer of data from small satellites will be designed, manufactured and tested. Both the design and the verification tests to be carried out are specific to the space industry and, at the end of the project, the system will be partially space-qualified.
In addition, new materials for the additive manufacturing of the antennas will be analysed.
In order to achieve the greatest possible weight reduction, the feasibility of using different types of aluminium, as well as composites, will be studied, both for the complete manufacture of the antenna and for some of its components. To this end, a structural comparison will be made of the designs developed in aluminium and in composite, simulating their dynamic response to the foreseen stresses.