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1/30/2019 | 1 MINUTE READ

Airborne develops composite structures for European small launcher program

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Airborne has completed its contribution to the European Commission Horizon 2020 project called SMall Innovative Launcher for Europe (SMILE). 

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Airborne (The Hague, The Netherlands) has announced that the company completed its contribution to the European Commission Horizon 2020 project called SMall Innovative Launcher for Europe (SMILE), which came to an end in December 2018. 

The program involved design of a launcher for satellites up to 50 kg and the manufacturing of cost-effective solutions. 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 and to meet production rates around one launcher every week, the goal is to automate production as much as possible. The program aims to apply series production at subsystem level, possible reuse of the first stage, and integrated low-cost avionics.

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. 

Anders Brødsjø, technology manager at Airborne, says, “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.”

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