The FreeFall Aerospace antenna system utilizes an ultra-lightweight inflatable structure that can be stowed in a very small volume. Once deployed in orbit, it provides an extremely lightweight large aperture high-gain antenna. This approach will dramatically increase the total data return and overall effectiveness of Cubesats and other small satellites. The Principal Investigator of CatSat is Dr. Chris Walker, professor of Astronomy at UA and co-founder of FreeFall Aerospace. The Lead Mechanical & Systems Engineer is FreeFall’s, Aman Chandra.
Aman Chandra, FreeFall Aerospace
CatSat is a 6U CubeSat built by GOMspace of Denmark that is now being integrated and tested by UA students from various departments, including Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Astronomy, Computer Science, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. It allows undergraduate and graduate students to get hands-on experience developing and operating a space mission and involves dozens of UA students across campus.
Once in orbit, the FreeFall antenna will deploy using compressed gas to inflate a 0.5-meter diameter Mylar spherical reflector incorporating a proprietary feed system. Through the inflatable antenna, CatSat will transmit high-definition Earth imagery in real-time to a 6.1 m ground station antenna at Tech Parks Arizona. A second “whip” antenna will also be used to probe how Earth’s ionosphere structure varies at different times of the day. CatSat will orbit Earth approximately 15 times a day during its expected 6-month lifetime.
“Qualifying our inflatable antenna is a crucial step for FreeFall Aerospace, the University of Arizona, and Tucson’s developing space ecosystem. We’re looking forward to making this capability available for commercial, scientific, and government space missions.”
Doug Stetson, CEO of FreeFall Aerospace