European Space Agency

Study Phase for the Development of a Single Feed Per Beam Antenna Feed Cluster Housing Assembly


The objective of the study was to develop the design of a Feed Cluster Housing Module (FCHM) for future Ka Band Single Feed Per Beam (SFPB) antenna programmes, which offers a step improvement in cost effectiveness relative to the current state of the art. The FCHM fulfils the functions of support structure, thermal control system, and connectivity back to the spacecraft payload interfaces, for an array of feed chains.

The study was to go as far as demonstrating feasibility of the chosen design concept, and outlining the development plan for an EQM model, to be undertaken in a 2nd phase.

The scope of the study is the preliminary design of a Feed Cluster Housing Module (FCHM), for Multiple Spot Beam antennas (MSA) using the Single Feed Per Beam (SFPB) concept.

The cost of the conventional design approach to SFPB Feed Assemblies is high, even when customising an existing design concept for a new mission. This study aimed to use innovative design approaches, in combination with existing technologies, to offer a significant improvement in mission specific customisation costs.

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The FCHM product cannot be a single universal design since the layout and scale of these SFPB feed arrays varies significantly from mission to mission.

The best which can be achieved is a modular design approach which is adaptable to as wide a range of missions as possible, with the minimum amount of mission-specific design effort. The key tasks were therefore:

  • Production of generic specification,
  • Design activities to justify standard components, standard interfaces and modular approach,
  • Test plan to prove generic qualification approach for standard components,
  • Analysis activities to justify generic component qualification environments and minimum mission-specific analysis.


This development will result in a new design approach for FCHMs for SFPB antennas, which will yield significantly cheaper products than those currently available on the market.

The simpler and more modular design approach will also lead to shorter manufacturing cycle times.

There are also potential spin-off benefits from the application of some of the involved technologies and methodologies, e.g.: waveguide panels or ‘manifolds’

  • Reduction of loading on existing suppliers of conventional fabricated waveguides (typically a critical issue on Ka-band SFPB spacecraft).
  • Potential applications in other areas of the spacecraft – e.g. payload.


A block diagram showing the principal components of a typical SFPB Antenna is shown below:

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A 22 feed cluster configuration was identified as being typical of a real mission need.

The FCHM design consists of:

  • A box structure consisting of 2 parallel support plates with 4 side panels.
  • 2 Tx waveguide manifolds one on either side.
  • 2 Rx waveguide manifolds one on either side.
  • Flexible waveguides linking feed chains to waveguide manifolds.
  • Support brackets interfacing with spacecraft.


The project ran from mid 2009 to late 2010.

The study ran in parallel with an ARTES 5.2 programme carried out by Astrium GmbH in Ottobrunn, to design two generic feed chain types for Ka-band SFPB applications. A co-ordinated design process was applied between the 2 studies.

The project included 2 major design reviews:

  • The Concept Selection Review – March 2010
  • The Baseline Design Review - Sept 2010.

The design and analysis work was supplemented by a development testing programme covering the proof of application of the critical technology building blocks.


Current status

This study phase has now been completed, and Astrium has submitted a proposal to develop an EQM of the resulting SFPB Feed Assembly design under Artes 3-4.

Status date

Thursday, January 27, 2011 - 16:56