RUAG Space developing a new satellite adapter for the European Vega launcher
RUAG Space Linköping has won a contract from the European Space Agency ESA to develop a flexible satellite adapter for the European Vega launcher. The adapter can handle both small and large satellites and means that RUAG Space has a range of adapters for all European rockets that launch from French Guiana.
Since its maiden launch in 2012, the European Vega launch rocket has been intended to offer launch capacity for smaller satellites together with more sizeable satellites. But the launcher’s present design has implied major costs for launches of smaller units, which has hampered Vega’s competitiveness. This is about to change.
Now the European Space Agency ESA has initiated a project to increase Vega’s payload capacity and make the launcher more flexible. Together with ELV – the European Launch Vehicle, which bears the main responsibility for Vega – RUAG Space has developed a new adapter design that can be re-engineered as required and is both lighter and more flexible. This means that Vega can be optimised for use with both large and smaller satellites at competitive rates.
“This is a milestone for RUAG Space – our adapters are now aboard all of the European rockets being launched from Kourou in French Guiana,” explains Magnus Engström, Key Account Manager at RUAG Space Linköping.
In its basic design the new adapter type can cope with larger satellites weighing up to 2.5 tonnes. In addition, the adapter can be configured to handle a lighter main payload weighing 1.5 tonnes in combination with six smaller satellites in the weight class 50-120 kg.
This project starts at the end of December 2016 and will run for 18 months, after which it will go into production. The contract will likely see RUAG Space deliver three or four adapters annually during the production phase.
The adapter is built based on the latest production methods using composite materials and also includes new smaller separation systems from RUAG Space.