When 34 Airbus OneWeb Satellites (OneWeb) launched onboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on March 21, RUAG Space had critical mission products onboard that were customized for the mega satellite constellation.
This launch was the second time that OneWeb launched 34 of its satellites.
In February of 2020, the first 34 satellites had been launched and now, on Saturday, March 21, the next 34 satellites. In February 2019, OneWeb successfully launched the first six broadband satellites.
As a key OneWeb supplier, RUAG Space built the satellite dispenser, which functions as an interface between the Soyuz rocket and satellites. The dispenser is tailored to the need of a constellation like OneWeb, being able to deposit up to 36 satellites safely into space.
The RUAG built OneWeb dispenser includes a conical top structure, a “hat”, that has the capability to host up to four additional OneWeb satellites per mission. RUAG has developed a unique and cost effective solution that enables OneWeb to maximize the number of satellites per Soyuz launch. The top structure was developed within the contract with Arianespace for the OneWeb program.
RUAG dispensers, produced in Sweden, are especially suitable for spacecraft constellations such as OneWeb, where a high number of spacecraft need to be placed in orbit within a short time frame. At its lower interface the dispenser structure is bolted to the launch vehicle upper stage. Each satellite is attached to the dispenser in separation nodes. The RUAG dispenser provides a stiff connection in each node during launch, a safe release and an accurate separation provided by the four separation nuts and spring units.
Structures for satellites RUAG Space manufactures the satellite panels used by OneWeb Satellites in Titusville, Florida. The OneWeb structures (satellite back-bone) are manufactured using the Automated Potting Process (APM). The APM process—developed by RUAG Space—is a revolutionary production method that uses a pick and place machine to rapidly position special inserts filled with adhesive into the satellite structure’s sandwich panels.
In Austria, RUAG Space produced the multi-layer thermal insulation which protects the OneWeb satellites against the cold and heat in space from approx. minus 150°C to plus 150°C (-238 degrees F to 302 degrees F). The insulation consists of several layers of metal-evaporated polyimide film.
RUAG Space in Austria also built handle equipment and containers that OneWeb uses to transport the assembled satellites to the different launch sites as well as the corresponding handling at the launch sites. The high-tech, custom satellite containers are used to transport the satellites to the worldwide rocket launch centers. The containers are equipped with a specifically designed damping systems and climate-control.
RUAG Space EVP Peter Guggenbach said the company's dispenser is super-light and includes state-of the art technology to safely place the satellites on orbit. With RUAG products, the company is contributing to this important project, which will enhance communication around the world.
A video of the RUAG Space Dispenser is available for viewing at this direct link...