RUAG payload fairing debuts on Vega rocket

The two satellites on Vega flight VV10 were enveloped by a payload fairing and manufactured in Emmen, Switzerland.

On August 1, Vega flight VV10 started from the launch pad in Kourou. On the top of the rocket, protecting the two satellites, debuted a RUAG (Zurich, Switzerland) Space payload fairing, which was manufactured out-of-autoclave. This advanced process was now for the first time applied to the payload fairing of a Vega rocket – after having succeeded initially on an Ariane 5 about five weeks ago. The new procedure reduces both throughput time and cost – thereby allowing for a higher delivery volume and flexibility.

Peter Guggenbach, CEO of RUAG Space, commented: “The out-of-autoclave process is very advanced, as it responds to the needs of today’s space industry. Shorter lead times, less cost, flexible adjustments and higher delivery sequence – this is our contribution to make access to space more affordable.”

In order to run it, RUAG has invested in a state-of-the-art manufacturing hall in Emmen, Switzerland. Relying on tailor-made machinery and automated processes, the new composite center was inaugurated in 2016.

The carbon-fiber based payload fairing consists of two half-shells, which separate in space. These shells are newly cured in an industrial oven instead of an autoclave. This requires less energy, and – thanks to its size – the industrial oven can cure an entire half-shell in one piece. The costly and time-consuming vertical integration of individual shell elements can be avoided. Overall, the Vega payload fairing is 7.8 meter high, and has a diameter of 2.6 meter at its largest point. Due to the out-of-autoclave manufacturing approach the fairing is around 70 kg lighter as the original fairing, cured in an autoclave.