Astro Aerospace

Deployable Structures and Mechanisms for Space Applications

Success Requires focus & attention to detail

Astro Aerospace, a Strategic Business Unit of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, has been a leader and pioneer, since 1958, in creating the technologies for space deployable structures. Astro's stellar 100% on-orbit deployment success record on hundreds of flight units and our continuing commitment to high quality means reliable space deployable products for your program. Whether it's a new application of existing technology or a challenging application requiring new mechanization and detailed engineering, Astro can meet your needs quickly and reliably.


AstroMesh® Unfurable Antenna for NASA's SMAP Mission

NASA's SMAP Mission
Photo courtesy of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will provide global measurements of soil moisture and indicate whether it is frozen or thawed. The data will be used to understand the processes that link Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles and improve weather and climate prediction models.

A key feature of the SMAP spacecraft is the first application of the new AstroMesh-Lite® reflector. The state-of-the-art AstroMesh® unfurlable mesh antenna reflector technology is the most advanced and reliable large aperture deployable reflector available.

Learn more about SMAP and AstroMesh® here.

Astro Aerospace On-Orbit Deployment 

Our expertise in deployable structures ranges from complex systems like our furlable AstroMesh reflectors and extendable radar support structures to extendable/retractable boom and mast subsystems.  All of our hardware is characterized by its efficient light weight structural design and robust deployment kinematics.  Astro has a tradition of innovation that, combined with our unmatched on-orbit performance provides the assured mission success required in today's demanding space flight environment.


Heritage Coilable Mast Technology 

Heritage Coilable Mast Technology- The AstroMast®; is a versatile, space proven, light weight coilable boom with more than 50 successful deployments on programs such as MILSTAR, DMSP, Olympus, Mars Odyssey, GOES, and INSAT. It can be utilized for multiple applications such as: linear actuators, instrument booms, solar sails and gravity gradients masts.


Furlable Mesh Antenna Reflector 

Furlable Mesh Antenna Reflector - AstroMesh technology provides the most advanced and reliable large aperture deployable reflectors available today. Apertures can range from 3 to 50-meter in diameter, covering radio frequencies UHF to beyond Ka-Band. Our performance record is unmatched with all of our reflectors deploying successfully on-orbit without incident or failure.

JIB Monopoles

JIB Monopoles 

JIB Monopoles -Our self-deploying JIB monopole antennas are cleverly simple yet highly reliable mechanisms; when a release pin is pulled they deploy to their full length. With an adaptable design configuration, JIBs can be tailored to specific applications; they are available in monopole diameters from ½ to 1 3/8 inches and any length up to 25 feet. This design has extensive flight heritage with over one thousand deployments on-orbit.

Telescopic Tube Masts

Telescopic Tube Mast 

Telescopic Tube Mast – Extremely light with compact packaging the Astro Telescopic Boom provides high performance and adaptability to a wide range of requirements for length and stiffness. In addition, the design incorporates a staged deployment feature and capability of retraction for ground testing and specialized on-orbit applications. Flight qualified hardware of 100 ft length has been produced that demonstrates high stiffness and strength capability in a low-weight package.

Storable Tubular Extendable Member (STEM™)

Storable Tubular Extendable Member 

Storable Tubular Extendable Member (STEM™) - A unique product with 40 years of space flight heritage including programs such as Voyager, GPS IIR, Hubble Space Telescope and Mars Pathfinder. These products are available as high force actuators (up to 150 lbs of force), or for use as a simple antenna using the basic STEM mechanism or as Interlocked BI-STEM to improve torsional rigidity and allow longer deployed lengths. STEM has been produced from 1/4 inch to 2 inch in diameter and manufactured in beryllium copper for antenna elements and stainless steel for structural applications.

Extendable Support Structure (ESS)

Extendable Support Structure 

Extendable Support Structure (ESS) - These deployable deep truss structures stow in very volume efficient packages and have been successfully used on SEASAT and RADARSAT 1 to deploy and support large, high accuracy planar structures for synthetic aperture radar antennas. The scalable AstroFold truss shown here is designed to support an ESA Radar of up to 300 meters in length and allow them to package within available launch vehicle fairings.

Hinges and Deployment Booms

Hinges & Deployment Booms 

Hinges & Deployment Booms – As the leader in deployable space structures; the design of hinges and deployable booms is part of Astro's core competency. We have a deep selection of flight heritage hinge mechanizations derived from our deployment booms for our large reflectors. These can be tailored or configured to any application. Our booms are proven to excel in the following areas:

  • High stiffness
  • Low thermal deflection (Low CTE)
  • Low/no backlash
  • Low hysteresis
  • High accuracy
  • High repeatability
  • Cryogenic
  • Multiple deployment axes
  • Low mass