“Winning this contract underlines our outstanding market position as a supplier of payload fairings for launch vehicles,” said Peter Guggenbach after the signing.
Vega is the “little sister” of the more widely known European Ariane launcher. Ariane is a heavy-duty transporter capable of carrying two weighty telecommunications satellites into space. In contrast, the 30-metre-high Vega was designed to transport small to medium-sized payloads into low orbit. Vega launchers have a payload capacity of around 1,500 kilograms for a 700-kilometre orbit, which makes them ideal for transporting satellites for Earth observation and meteorological and scientific missions.
Measuring just under eight metres in height, these payload fairings protect the satellites prior to launch from high temperatures, solar radiation, dust, moisture and rain at the launch site. During the first few minutes of flight, the primary job of the fairing is to reliably protect the satellites it encapsulates from noise, the extreme frictional heat and mechanical loads. Once the Vega launcher has passed through the Earth’s atmosphere after just four minutes of flight, the fairing is no longer needed and can be jettisoned.
RUAG will manufacture the payload fairings for this contract in Emmen and not at its Zurich location, as it would have done previously. A 5,000-square-metre production facility is currently under construction in Emmen in which RUAG will use a state-of-the-art, semi-automated process to manufacture fairings also for future generations of launcher. This new process will dramatically reduce the effort and expense of manufacturing payload fairings and RUAG plans to start production in the new facility within the coming year.