Radio communications apertures for spacecraft have long been implemented using deployable architectures in order to fit within the allowable launch vehicle volume. Apertures for optics missions have traditionally not been segmented because of the tight requirements on the deployed surface. By the nature of the problem, larger apertures are generally better, but complicate orbital delivery. While there are several reflectors commercially available, high packing ratios come at very high cost due to the extremely complex nature of the designs. Researchers at the Space Vehicles Directorate have been investigating ways to enable high packing ratios while reducing the design, integration, and testing complexity of deployable systems, thereby driving down cost and enabling greater mission capabilities. Recent advances in flexible composites have opened up the possibilities of packaging apertures using either distributed or concentrated strain. This paper offers an overview of recent work done to enable lower complexity deployable apertures. Several origami-inspired designs are presented including a flat spiral folding membrane, a parabolic antenna reflector, and a phased array structure.

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