An inflatable antenna is an interesting alternative on a cubesat. This article talks about the boost in signal range with one of these things. Very interesting idea indeed, but not new. There are ground antennas that are inflatable, such as the GATR. But the idea is the same–make it cheaper and smaller, but keep the functionality.
For those of you that don’t know, a cubesat is a very small satellite–about the size of a shoebox. These are designed to hitch rides on rockets that are carrying bigger payloads and ejected by the rocket into a low earth orbit (typically). They use a very common bus, are relatively inexpensive, and provide a great alternative for universities and others to conduct space experiments. They are a sub-category of a smallsat and the field is growing.
- Cubesats with Large Structureless antennas (nextbigfuture.com)
- Successful Kickstarter for Raspberry Pi LunarSail CubeSat (amsat-uk.org)