A European company's subsidiary in North America, GomSpace, has teamed up with the University of Arizona to deliver satellite elements and related services to support their CatSat high-gain antenna mission. The contract that they agreed upon is valued at 4.5 MSEK (Swedish Krona). The satellite, 'CatSat', has been named for the University of Arizona Wildcats.
The team will demonstrate a new ultra-lightweight, high-gain antenna developed by FreeFall Aerospace based on technology invented at and licensed from the University of Arizona (UA). Under the leadership of Professor of Astronomy, Dr. Christopher Walker, UA students and staff will provide a camera system and radio propagation experiment, integrate the science and communications payloads, deliver the flight system for launch, and lead mission operations. The mission was selected by the NASA Cubesat Launch Initiative for launch in early 2021.
The FreeFall Aerospace inflatable antenna system takes minimum space as it packages into less than 1.5U of the total 6U Cubesat volume and deploys in orbit to provide a lightweight one meter or larger aperture that can increase total data return by 10-100 times that of conventional technology, with less mass and power.
Doug Stetson, CEO of FreeFall Aerospace said that this is an exciting step forward for FreeFall and the entire small spacecraft industry. Working with UA and GomSpace they’ll be able to help realize the full potential of small low-cost spacecraft by dramatically increasing their data return capability.
GomSpace's CEO, Niels Buus added that the satellite will be a 6U platform provided by GomSpace and delivered to the University of Arizona, the mission will utilize GomSpace’s space-proven 6U platform which provides the reliable foundation for many exciting in-orbit demonstrations proving the technology for tomorrow’s new applications.
Rincon Research will provide and program their advanced, compact, flight-qualified Software Defined Radio (AstroSDR) to complete the payload package. The AstroSDR will perform high-rate signal and image processing to support mission experiments and establish a high-bandwidth telecom link between the spacecraft and Earth.