Session 6: The Year in Review II
The NASA sponsored ISARA (Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna) mission successfully demonstrated a 100 Mbps Ka-band CubeSat communications capability. The enabling technology is a high gain reflectarray antenna integrated into a modified Pumpkin “Turkey Tail” solar array which wraps around the spacecraft body, essentially requiring near zero volume to accommodate. A simple low gain feed is used to distribute RF power to the reflectarray through free space. The 0.5kg ISARA antenna mass is compatible with the requirements of a 3U (10x10x10 cm3) spacecraft. The ISARA mission validated this approach in a flight technology demonstration. A unique on-orbit measurement system provided accurate measurement of the antenna gain from space. This system demonstrated 100Mbps downlink data rate capability using a relatively simple ground station with a 70cm parabolic reflector antenna. The spacecraft also verified ISARA solar panel output power and demonstrated the operational capability to accurately point the antenna to a Ka-band ground station, a key requirement for a telecom system. ISARA achieved a number of technological firsts. It is believed to be the first reflectarray antenna flown in space, first high gain antenna integrated with solar panels, first calibrated reflectarray antenna gain measurement performed from space and the first 3U CubeSat to demonstrate 100 Mbps capability using a small, low-cost ground station.
The ISARA Mission - Flight Demonstration of a High Gain Ka-Band Antenna for 100Mbps Telecom