In December 2018 Airborne has completed their contribution to the European Commission Horizon 2020 project called SMall Innovative Launcher for Europe (SMILE). From 2016 on, participants together have been designing a launcher for satellites up to 50 kg and the manufacturing of cost-effective solutions. This year the preliminary results were shown at IAC Bremen 2018, including a brand-new video.
Now in December 2018 the project has come to an end.
Airborne develops affordable composite structures for small launchers. For the manufacturing smart automation was applied: low CAPEX, flexible, scalable and transferable robotic solutions.
In order to keep the payload capacity for the upper stage of SMILE as high as possible, the launcher is made from lightweight composite materials. In order to lower the manufacturing cost, the production should be automated as much as possible.
Airborne’s contribution to the project was to develop a structural concept for a small launcher together with new and innovative automation technology, in order to manufacture these structures. To validate these new technologies a demonstrator based on the third stage of a small launcher was manufactured.
SMILE targets both the market for education and in-orbit demonstration, and commercial, scientific and governmental missions. It is Europe’s ambition to gain independent access to space for small satellites. The SMILE concept targets a European, ITAR-free, cost effective, commercially exploitable launch service. The development of critical advanced European technology (including materials, structures, engines, and avionics) with affordability in mind is an essential step to achieve this goal and should be combined with the application of series production at subsystem level, possible reuse of the first stage, and integrated low-cost avionics. In order to lower the manufacturing cost, and to meet production rates around one launcher every week, the production should be automated as much as possible.
Anders Brødsjø, Technology Manager at Airborne, involved in the SMILE project:
“The SMILE project allowed us to further mature our automated manufacturing technology, as well as developing a concept for an launcher structure. This technology will not only help to create affordable launcher structures, but is also applicable to many other markets, such as aerospace and automotive.”
Full results of the project will be presented via: