Japan’s space agency JAXA, along with Japanese companies Taiyo Wire Cloth, NGK Insulators, Technosolver Corporation, and Koyo Materica Corporation, have jointly developed a metal mesh for onboard deployable reflectors, achieving a dramatic cut in costs, which will be made commercially available.
The new metal mesh is made from zirconium copper wire and fabricated by tricot weaving. It is light weight, flexible, and has excellent electrical reflection properties at the high frequency band of Ka (30 GHz). It has characteristics similar to molybdenum wire, and is applicable to metal mesh. On top of this, it is strong enough to be fabricated into a metal mesh without gold plating. These two reasons make it possible to dramatically cut cost compared with conventional metal mesh.
Conventionally, the metal mesh of the antennas have been made from gold plated molybdenum wire, which utilizes precious and rare metals and is therefore difficult to obtain and very costly.
The new metal mesh is expected to be applied primarily to next generation communications satellites and SAR (synthetic aperture radar) satellites, both of which use deployable reflectors to improve satellite capabilities, particularly communication speeds.