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on 24 May 2022

ESA Open Invitation to Tender: 1-11709
Open Date: 23/05/2022 12:05 CEST
Closing Date: 15/07/2022 13:00 CEST

The concept of realising large antenna apertures in orbit by employing array techniques has been understood for some time now, but recent advances in in-orbit manufacturing and assembly technology, as well as improved production techniques for small low-cost spacecraft, mean that such an approach could well become technologically and commercially feasible in the near term. The proposed activity would therefore comprise an investigation into techniques and topologies for realising very large array antennas in orbit. The survey should consider in-orbit assembly of pre-manufactured modules, the technical feasibility of solutions combining "formation flying" of unconnected orbital elements (i.e., fractionated antennas), or any other approaches that may allow to realise the same objective. Consideration should begiven to radiative element design, sub-array definition, beamforming, power and low noise amplification, D.C. power generation and distribution, data Connections/transmission between elements, scalability, and reliability. Whilst the investigations should consider feasibility in all frequency bands currently used for satellite communications, (i.e., from VHF to Ka-Band), as well as bands likely to be brought in to use in the future (e.g., Q, V, and W-Bands), effort should be focused on higher frequencies where greater bandwidth is available. The activity should target array solutions of an order of magnitude greater than traditional solid-shell reflector solutions, i.e., over 20m in diameter. Having identified the most promising approach, a more detailed feasibility assessment shall be performed, defining achievable performance targets, simulating link level performance, and providing power, mass, and cost assessments. The outcome should be a technology development roadmap defining the development steps and timescales needed to realise new satcom systems based on the identified approach (if shown to be feasible).

Directorate: Directorate Telecom Integrated Applica
Estabilishment: ESTEC
ECOS Required: No
Classified: No
Price Range: 200-500 KEURO
Authorised Contact Person: Florence Odette Jeanne Glandieres
Initiating Service: TIA-TFC
IP Measure: N/A
Prog. Reference: E/0501-01D - Future Prep 4.0.1
Tender Type: Open Competition
Technology Keywords: 6-D-II-Telecommunication Payloads / 7-A-III-Array Antennas and Standalone Radiators
Products Keywords: 2-L-1-a-Omnidirectional, Helix, Horn, Parabolic, Phased Arrays / Platform vs Payload

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