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CONFORMAL ANTENNA ARRAY FOR NEXT GENERATION LAUNCHERS - EXPRO+

ESA Open Invitation to Tender AO10149
Open Date: 13/03/2020
Closing Date: 24/04/2020 13:00:00

Status: ISSUED
Reference Nr.: 19.1ET.39
Prog. Ref.: Technology Developme
Budget Ref.: E/0901-01 - Technology Developme
Special Prov.: BE+DK+FR+DE+IT+NL+ES+SE+CH+GB+IE+AT+NO+FI+PT+GR+LU+CZ+RO+PL+EE+HU
Tender Type: C
Price Range: 200-500 KEURO
Products: Launchers / Avionics / TT&C / Antennas, transmitters, receivers, transponders
Technology Domains: Electromagnetic Technologies and Techniques / Antennas / Array Antennas and Standalone Radiators
Establishment: ESTEC
Directorate: Directorate of Tech, Eng. & Quality
Department: Electrical Department
Division: RF Payloads & Technology Division
Contract Officer: Singer, Anze
Industrial Policy Measure: N/A - Not apply
Last Update Date: 18/03/2020
Update Reason: Loaded a new Clarification(English version)

The telemetry (TM) system of a launch vehicle (LV) builds a communication link between a launch vehicle and a ground station (GS). It transfers the monitoring information to a ground station where the information could be (1) status of a launch vehicle resources,attitude and health and (2) scientific data, image or video. The purpose of the telemetry is provide reliable information on the status of the entire launch vehicle to a ground station.Current launchers telemetry systems operate in S-band (from 2.200 GHz to 2.290GHz) and rely on existing omni-directional antennas to support the required communication data rates to ground. Corona-free transmit power level and omni-directional antenna gain limit the maximum achievable data rates. Since a need for high speed telemetry system has been recently recognized to manage a launch vehicle status precisely, potential telemetry communication link improvements are needed. Previous technology activities has shown that antenna gain improvement appears as the most attractive solution. In particular, the use of conformal antenna arrays would enable a large increase in gain as compared to omni-directional antennas. Specific requirements for such antenna development are the necessary fast beam steering capability (launch vehicles are stabilised via a fast roll-rate), the low impact on launcher aerodynamics, the conformal mounting and mass and cost optimisations. Launch vehicles are oftenstabilised in flight by a fast roll rate. This fast roll rate, combined with vehicle attitude changes, greatly increases the complexity of the high-gain antenna beam-tracking problem. Phased arrays for larger launch vehicles with roll control could potentially beexpensive. Prior techniques involved a traditional electronic phased array solution, combined with highly complex and very fast inertial measurement unit phased array beamformers. One technology that could decrease this array antenna cost is the use of so-called retro-directive antennas. These antennas, relying on an uplink signal, have already been studied in past activities and their performance proved to be in line with expectations at S-band. Next step would be to demonstrate the applicability of this antenna technology for larger array operating in a realistic launcher environment. Both traditional and retro-directive array antenna solutions shall be studied.

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