A rib, wrapped foldable antenna
A rib, wrapped foldable antenna

Amplifying success for OSS

Case Studies

Project Case Study: Oxford Space Systems in collaboration with the University of Surrey

Reducing development times for a new generation of antennas and structures for the global space sector

Oxford Space Systems (OSS) is a venture capital-backed, award-winning space technology business that is pioneering the development of a new generation of deployable antennas and structures that are lighter, less complex and lower cost than those in current commercial demand.

Based at the UK’s Harwell Space Cluster, the rapidly-growing team contains a diverse range of world-class expertise in the fields of RF engineering, aerospace, mechanical, electrical/electronic, and thermal engineering for the space environment.

First in-orbit demonstration for Boom

OSS previously collaborated with the University of Surrey on the Surrey Space Centre AlSat-Nano space mission. This was a joint endeavour by the UK and Algeria to build and operate a 3U CubeSat. The project was designed to provide training to Algerian students, making use of UK engineering and experience.

The CubeSat was designed and built by the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and hosts three UK payloads – including a Deployable Boom from OSS – with operations run by the Algerian Space Agency (ASAL).

The mission provided the first in-orbit demonstration of OSS’s AstroTubeTM boom technology which was key for gaining heritage on the Boom, an element crucial in the space industry to gain contracts. On the back of this mission, OSS has negotiated approximately £7 million of export contracts across the US, Europe and Israel, plus further enquiries from NASA and Asia, for derivatives of its AstroTubeTM Boom payload and antenna systems, based on its proprietary flexible composites.

As part of the mission, the OSS boom also benefited from a hardware qualification campaign as part of the spacecraft EVT. OSS have also partnered with Sen to provide camera deployment boom for high- resolution video from orbit.

As a direct result of the mission, Surrey Space Centre has also procured hardware from OSS for the RemoveDebris mission from 2013–2018, where a 1.5m Astrotube boom from OSS was used to deploy a harpoon target. The harpoon was fired at a speed of 20 metres per second and penetrated a target made of satellite panel material.

Developing new generation of antennas for global space sector

Now, under the SPRINT programme, OSS is working with the University of Surrey to commercialise a new generation of deployable antennas and structures for the global space industry that are lighter, more stowage efficient, and more cost effective than existing alternatives.

This will help OSS to achieve its vision of ‘becoming the leading global supplier of innovative deployable space antennas and structures for the new space age’.

The SPRINT project is also aiming to submit OSS’ new designs to various mechanical and thermal tests that simulate the space environment and measure the resulting performance of new antenna materials.

Utilising world-class expertise

Michael Lawton, CEO of Oxford Space Systems says: “As small but rapidly growing team, it’s not possible to have all the skills, experience and facilities needed to undertake our commercially focused work internally. The SPRINT programme provides essential support to enable us to engage with the world-class expertise of the University of Surrey and thus ensure that our satellite antennas and structures can take a lead position on the global stage.”

Ian James, Innovation Advisor – SPRINT programme at the University of Surrey adds: “We are delighted to support OSS in the development of their latest satellite antennae designs. OSS is benefitting from the University’s extensive expertise in materials and structures as well as gaining access to test facilities within Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences and the Surrey Space Centre.”

Dr Andrew Viquerat, Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Surrey says: “It’s exciting for us to be able to work with a British company developing innovative space hardware. The SPRINT programme makes this kind of collaboration particularly easy, and we were able to bring together equipment and expertise from three different university departments to assist with this multidisciplinary project.”

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