8, February 2022

ESA Open Invitation to Tender: 1-10842
Open Date: 08/02/2022 13:16 CEST
Closing Date: 23/03/2022 13:00 CEST

Current active phased array technology is well advanced and achieves remarkable performance as demonstrated in various Earth Observation activities. However, the common concern is that the antennas are heavy and very expensive. One reason is that the basic designs are meanwhile decades old. Latest technologies are applied on some elements but are not used to improve the overall design and architecture. Miniaturisation and cost reduction in radiofrequency (RF) systems is currently the domain of commercial markets and has achieved remarkable results. The spin-in from commercial markets will open lots of opportunities to improve spaceborne active array antennas in terms of manufacturing cost and mass. The main challenges to be addressed are cost and complexity of the array, mass, volume and number of components (radiating elements,phase shifters and power combiners).The elements that shall be analysed within the activity are: – At system and subsystem level: – Critical review of system requirements in interdisciplinary teams (array designer, hardware and AIT engineers, system engineers) in order to reduce the challenges on hardware level. – Review of classical AIT approaches. Shifting e.g. building block performance verification to higher levels by exploiting the capabilities of digital controlled built-in calibration methods. – Modulararray antenna designs configurable by element building blocks. – Review of relevant commercial technologies and elements and mapping to potential space-borne usage. – Trade-off Analog vs Digital vs Hybrid Beamforming. – At hardware and technology level:- Higher integration levels by e.g. radiator integration with TR electronic modules. – Higher integration of the TR electronic modules by single chip approaches. – Metal only vs dielectric based trade-off for antenna components – Reducing the mass of energy storage elements by using advanced power conditioner. – Digital Beamforming pre-processing of data. – Adoption of new advanced manufacturing techniques (e.g. ALM). – Wireless array element control. – Data transmission within the array by means ofoptical fibres, optical or wireless free space links. – Lightweight mechanical structures and deployment technology.The activity will be split in two phases: – in the first phase the focus will be on system and subsystem levels and investigation into relevant commercial but qualifiable technologies to set the goal for the mass reduction compared to existing designs. A frequency shall be selected for the activity. The selected goal for mass per square meter (figure of merit) shall then be justified by e.g. the possibility to use a smaller launch vehicle. As well, expected cost advantages by applying advanced technologies and AIT procedures shall be predicted. A preliminary array architecture shall be developed. Based on this preliminary architecture, a demonstrator for the second phase shall be defined. – In the second phase the demonstrator shall be designed, built and tested. Based on the test results the expected performance and cost of full array shall be predicted.

Directorate: Directorate of Tech, Eng. Quality
Estabilishment: ESTEC
ECOS Required: No
Classified: No
Price Range: > 500 KEURO
Authorised Contact Person: Franziska Isabella Erkelens-Sickinger
Initiating Service: TEC-EFP
IP Measure: N/A
Prog. Reference: E/0904-611 – GSTP Element 1 Dev
Tender Type: Open Competition
Open To Tenderers From: DE
Technology Keywords: 6-D-II-Telecommunication Payloads /  6-D-III-EO Instruments
Products Keywords: 2-I-1-b-Imaging Radars / 2-L-1-a-Omnidirectional, Helix, Horn, Parabolic, Phased Arrays / Platform vs Payload

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