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Some early Amateur Radio satellites (Project OSCAR) literally did use silver-plated steel tape measures.

http://www.rfcafe.com/references/popular-electronics/oscar-3...






Many university-grade cubesats use tape measure antennas today. They can be easily stored during launch by wrapping them around the satellite body, secured with nylon fishing wire and then released by burning through the nylon with a NiChrome heating element.



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