Vitesse Systems delivers its first 3D-printed satellite antenna

The passive antenna was integrated into the Tomorrow-R1 satellite which is described as the “world’s first commercially built weather radar satellite” when it was launched in May this year.

Vitesse Systems, a supplier of antenna, thermal management, and power distribution solutions used in radar, electronic warfare, and data transmission applications, has delivered its first additively manufactured satellite antenna.

Tomorrow-R1 Satellite – Image credit: Vitesse Systems

Vitesse Systems’ journey in Additive Manufacturing would have started in 2021 when it acquired Custom Microwave Inc., a designer and manufacturer of high-performance, passive antennas for space and ground applications. At this moment, it invested in two metal 3D printers and increased design engineering capacity to develop more complex antenna solutions.

Vitesse Systems has also developed a range of proprietary finishing processes that enhance the surface characteristics of its antenna solutions; overcoming the limitations previously associated with additively manufactured antenna.

We began working with the team at Tomorrow.io back in 2020. As we developed the preliminary antenna design, we realized that we could optimize RF performance and reduce the overall mass of the antenna by using our AM capability,” Dr. Clency Lee Yow, CTO, Vitesse Systems, added.

The successful delivery of this first 3D-printed satellite antenna increases Vitesse Systems’ willingness to explore more opportunities with AM in space hardware applications.

Richie Dart, General Manager, Vitesse Systems Longmont, explained, “Over the past few years, we have developed our additive manufacturing capability to optimize antenna performance and reduce development lead times. We initially focused on Ground and Airborne antenna applications, but it was always our intent to use this technology for Space hardware. Delivering our first additively manufactured satellite antenna is an important step on our technology roadmap and we look forward to more opportunities to leverage our additive capabilities for our customers.”

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