Leading the way for composites in the SmallSat industry
Airborne Aerospace is the European market leader for substrate panels in the Small Satellite Industry. Our extensive knowledge, combined with our space heritage on both manufacturing processes and materials, makes us a unique partner to work with.
The Rise of SmallSats
A new demand is emerging in the space industry. On one hand, micro and nano-satellite operators are evolving towards larger satellites where more power is required. On the other hand, large prime operators are launching smaller sized satellites in higher numbers than the typical large high-end satellites. Due to these current developments, Airborne has increased its SmallSat portfolio upto 150 panels a year, serving various SmallSat customers.
In light of these changing demands, Airborne supports the design choices of its clients from a manufacturability point of view. By providing a co-engineering services for SmallSat customers, we lead the way towards lighter panels, resulting in more affordable panels which are produced in our state-of-the-art clean room.
Automated Skin manufacturing
Airborne continuously strives to integrate automation as much as possible in its manufacturing processes. Our panel skins are manufactured with our automated tape laying machine (ATL). The ATL in our clean room is operational for small scale productions but can also be modified and fine-tuned for the production scale of mega-constellations.
Optimal usage of our autoclave
Our skins and bonded assemblies are cured in our 13.5 m long autoclave, which allows us to cure multiple skins and bonded assemblies. This guarantees an optimal usage the autoclave and leads to a significantly positive impact on pricing.
The panels are machined on our highly accurate milling machine and then equipped with inserts. The insert types and amount vary per panel as each customer has its own panel design. The inserts which are installed with our space heritage potting materials are typically custom-made in close collaboration with our customers.
Based on customer demand, our panels are subjected to meticulous inspection. A non-destructive inspection (NDI) performed on each panel, can be expanded with measurements such as flatness, flushness, dimensional and mass measurements etc. accordingly. Not to forget, work in process samples and testing is applied to all SmallSat panels.