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A flagship European Space Agency (ESA) project kicked off amidst the coronavirus period via teleconference on the 2nd of June 2020. The DELHILA project (DEpLoyable HIgh gain antenna structure for smalL spAcecraft science mission) puts Greece on the global map of Deployable Structures Technologies. Deployable structures are crucial for space missions and they have been identified as a critical technology for Europe’s non-dependence in the Global Space Market. The project is funded by the ESA Science Core Technology Program (CTP).

The aim of the project is to develop a reliable, deployable reflector antenna that operates in the X-band (8-12GHz), including the support structure and antenna feed. The antenna is intended to meet the communication needs of interplanetary scientific missions with small spacecraft platforms. The project covers all the steps of development: design, breadboarding, manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing to flight readiness.

The Consortium of Greek Partners consists of the Wireless Communications Laboratory, IIT, NCSR Demokritos, the company Adamant Composites Ltd. (Prime contractor) a high-tech industrial SME working on Advanced Materials & Structures, University of Patras (Applied Mechanics Laboratory) and SITAEL Hellas (Greek subsidiary of SITAEL, Italian system integrator with a focus on small satellites). WiCom laboratory has undertaken the study, RF design and simulation of all the transmission / reception  modules of the new antenna.

The reflector will have a deployed diameter of 1.5-2.0m and shall fit in a cylinder of 0.2m diameter and 1.0m length inside a small satellite platform. The antenna to be supported will be a high gain antenna operating at X-band. The total mass of the deployable system is expected to be below 10kg. Product specifications will be consolidated during the work and will be aligned with the needs in NewSpace and the emerging market of Small satellites. The project will run in two phases; Phase 1 will cover the design and critical Breadboarding until the Preliminary Design, while Phase 2 will cover the Detailed Design and all Manufacturing, Assembly, Integration and Testing to bring the system to TRL7.

Dr. Antonis Alexandridis, Research Director and Head of WiCom, commented on the kick-off of the project:

“The ESA-DELHILA project is a great challenge for our Laboratory, as we have the chance to exploit in the field of Space Applications our infrastructure, expertise and know-how in antenna technologies. We believe that this project will be a pilot for the expansion of our research collaborations with the European Space Agency as well as with high-tech Greek companies such as Adamant.”

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