When a satellite is about to be pushed into space, it is almost certain that a Swedish injector provides that final push. For decades, through development and production, the Swedish Ruag Space has gained excellent expertise and knowledge and now stands as the preferred supplier of satellite adapters and separation systems for nearly all launching operators. Until now, this has applied for single satellites only; however, new trends demand adapters and ejection systems for not only two but for a large number of satellites for the same launcher. Products from the company have very high reliability. To date, nearly 600 separations have been carried out with a success rate of 100%, thus it is not difficult to understand that the company is the preferred supplier for nearly all of the launch operators.
At the top of a launcher the satellite must have a very strong connection during the launch phase, something that may not seem to pose significant challenges, however, the satellite must also be injected into space at the end of the launch without significant disturbances. That is more challenging and requires techniques that are more advanced. Until recently, explosive bolts and springs have been the most commonly used solution, but even the small explosions give unwanted shocks for the satellite, thus a more soft ejection system has been developed.
Until recently, most of the launchers have had space enough for one satellite for every launch, though Ariane 5 launch for the most part has had two, but under two different fairings. Some launchers also provide possibilities for piggy backs. Small satellites under the same fairing as the main satellite.
The new trend in the market is the separation system allowing several more satellites to be carried during the same launch. The new separation system for two satellites under the same fairing is developed for the Soyuz launcher, and used launching the Galileo navigation satellites. This system is already well proven, but is only the beginning.
ThirtyTwo Satellites At the Same Launcher
The new product is a separation system for 32 satellites for each launch and for totally 650 satellites. Ruag Space recently won a very large order from Arianespace to develop and build a separation system for the American OneWeb. The OneWeb constellation will, when the system is operational in 2019, consist of 648 satellites at 1200 km altitude and will give a broadband access for much more peoples worldwide.
Ruag Space will deliver the dispenser system planned to place each of the satellites in position for transfer to the final orbit. This represents a very larger order for the company, an order that will involve a larger production plant and several more employers.
This order follows the prestige project for NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS). Four identical satellites in one stack under the same fairing, is not a simple task. However, the satellites are operational in the right orbit, and for Ruag Space it is a new feather in the hat; first of all because they were asked to develop the product, secondly, because they are going to deliver a product that functions completely as supposed.
Developing a Part of the Business
Ruag Space, previously owned by the Swedish Saab is now a part of the Swiss Ruag, constantly spends large resources to keep their leading position within their special field of products; developing new technical solutions, better material technology and new production techniques., fields that are constantly in need of developing.
Like most similar companies, Ruag Space is also focused on recruiting highly skilled and engaged employees. As a supplier of space qualified equipment, the company needs its engineers to develop increasingly more advanced products, as well as well qualified personnel to build the different types of Products.
In that respect, having a summer job in the company provides a possibility for the company to increase an interest for the company and for students, a possibility to get a foothold in the company. Summer jobs can include everything from matters of routine to participating in more advanced production and tests, additionally, it is also possible to sign up for Masters or Doctoral theses in the Company.
Ruag Space Sweden in Linkøping, Sweden, is the world leading company for production of satellite adapters and dispensers for the launching operators, and it delivers such equipment to nearly all launchers in the world. The market dominance was established in the time the company was owned by the Swedish Saab, and the very successful development has continued during the time as a part of the Swiss Ruag Company.
Until now most of the products have been adapters and ejectors for single satellites. At the top of the launcher, and during the fairing, the satellites are tightly connected to the launcher. Ruag’s product is a structure that has a bottom circumference adjusted to the top of launcher and an upper circumference adjusted to bottom of the satellite. With the separation sequence, the upper ring loosens from the launcher and springs give the satellite a last push. The sequence must be quick; the satellite must be given a soft push and now other pieces than the satellite are about to leaves into Space.
One satellite at the top of the launcher is a relatively simple construction, two satellite side by side, like two Galileo satellites at a Soyuz launcher, is somewhat more complicated, while 32 satellites at the same launcher give a very complicated dispenser system. The order from the Oneweb company in addition to the dispenser system, also includes the electronic equipment necessary for a complete separation sequence.
With the launch of the Galileo navigations satellites, it has become necessary to develop adapters and dispensers for two similar satellites at the same launcher, placed side by side, not like the dual launch with Ariane 5 where the upper satellite has its own structure. Developing the Galileo ejectors provided some new challenges; mounted side by side the satellites must be ejected without chance of collision with the other satellites.
A special challenge was the ejector system for the American MMS satellites. With four similar satellites mounted as a stack, the challenge was to place a new satellite at an underlying without damaging the ejection. The ejection sequence was very successful and the satellites are now operational in a correct formation. For the company in Linkøping, the request to develop and build the advanced ejection system on behalf of NASA was a great feather in their cap and an important step on the way to launch many satellites with the same launcher.
Right before we visited the company, they had received the order to develop and build a dispenser system for 32 satellites. The dispenser system will be built for the Soyuz launcher and for over twenty launchers.
Launching very small satellites with dedicated small launchers is a new trend. That will add new products to the line, and in size they are more like the parts for sounding rockets.
All Pictures friendly loan from Ruag Space.