SWISSto12 Supplies Northrop Grumman with 3D Printed Antenna Feed Chains

Published on May 23, 2024 by Isaac B.

High-frequency systems and satellites play a crucial role in intensively observing and exploring space, analyzing weather phenomena, and enabling communication. The demands on these systems are continuously increasing to provide more comprehensive and accurate data. Consequently, companies in this field face growing pressures to develop more powerful systems. Northrop Grumman Corporation, a prominent American company in the aerospace and defense sector, is currently developing the innovative GEOStar-3 communications satellite system. This system can carry payloads of up to 800 kilograms and provide 8000 watts of power. To ensure the successful implementation of this project, Northrop Grumman is leveraging Swiss expertise, among other resources.

For the GEOStar-3 commercial satellite program, Northrop Grumman is partnering with St12 RF Solution to supply three fully integrated RF antennas. St12 RF Solutions, the U.S. subsidiary of SWISSto12, is a leading manufacturer of advanced satellite RF products, payloads, and systems. Founded in 2011 and based in Lausanne, SWISSto12 has rapidly expanded within Europe, collaborating with the European Space Agency (ESA) on the HummingSat geostationary telecommunications satellite. This growth has been significantly supported by their innovative additive manufacturing technology for RF applications, which is also being utilized for the RF antenna chains in the GEOStar-3 satellite program.

SWISSto12 worked with ESA on the HummingSat satellite.

The feed chains for the GEOStar-3 satellite were designed as monolithic assemblies, incorporating diplexers, filters, polarizers, apertures, and mechanical interfaces. These components are produced as a single piece using the Radio Frequency Additive Manufacturing (RFAM) process developed by SWISSto12. RFAM technology surpasses previous production limits, creating highly complex and unconventional designs previously unattainable due to performance, weight, size, or cost constraints. This technology allows for optimized design, manufacturing tolerances, and surface finishes, reducing size and weight while meeting the stringent requirements of the GEOStar-3 program.

The qualification program was successfully completed at the beginning of the year, which is why St12 RF Solutions has now developed and delivered three fully integrated RF antenna chains. These feed chains will now be incorporated into the GEOStar-3 payload so that the launch of GEOStar-3 can still occur in 2024. The order from Northrop Grumman, the space qualification, and the delivery of the feed chains was an extraordinary step for SWISSto12. Scott Wolf, Managing Director of the subsidiary St12 RF Solutions, stated:

SWISSto12 is delighted to announce this first delivery to Northrop Grumman of cutting-edge Radio Frequency Antenna Feed Chains for one of its commercial GEOStar-3 programs. Our novel Radio Frequency Additive Manufacturing capabilities coupled with advanced monolithic designs enabled by 3D printing have created a new benchmark in Antenna Feed Chain size, weight and performance. Our Radio Frequency Additive Manufacturing and HummingSat geostationary SmallSat businesses have delivered over $200 million in customer orders to date, validating  our mission to push the limits of existing payload capabilities to better protect and connect every corner of the world.”

What do you think of SWISSto12 and its innovative additive manufacturing technology for high-frequency products? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly newsletter here for the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*All Photo Credits: SWISSto12

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