Ruag to make payload fairings for ULA’s Vulcan

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Swiss manufacturer Ruag Space will build composite payload fairings for United Launch Alliance’s future Vulcan launch vehicle at ULA’s Alabama plant, the companies announced April 12.

Under the agreement, Ruag will provide payload fairings and other composite structures for the Vulcan launch vehicle. The Zurich-based company currently produces the five-meter payload fairing for the Atlas 5 and the rocket’s interstage adapter. Ruag will build a similar payload fairing for Vulcan as well as a smaller model, which can also be used on the Atlas.

The announcement builds upon a strategic partnership Ruag and ULA announced last August, where Ruag agreed to start building Atlas composite structures within the Decatur, Alabama, plant where ULA builds the Atlas. At the time, the companies only announced that Ruag would build “other carbon fiber structures” for Vulcan in Decatur.

“It’s going to represent a great deal more flexibility for us, as well as a much lower cost and more affordable access to space,” said Tory Bruno, president and chief executive of ULA, in an interview during the 32nd Space Symposium here April 12.

Peter Guggenbach, chief executive of Ruag Space, said the agreement is beneficial for his company on several levels, starting with co-locating manufacturing of the components at ULA’s plant. “It’s the first time for us to be so close to a customer, which has a number of benefits,” he said in an April 12 interview.

That move will also allow Ruag to take advantage of advancements in the production of composite hardware. “We completely modified the process and are using the most modern technology,” he said. One example he provided is that Ruag will eliminate the use of expensive autoclaves to produce those components.

“What Ruag is bringing to these products is the latest manufacturing techniques for composite structures,” said Bruno. He believed Ruag’s approach would be “much faster, much lower cost and promises to produce a more consistent, higher quality product.”

Guggenbach said Ruag will have an initial manufacturing capability in place in Decatur by the end of the year, which will ramp up over the next few years. Ruag plans to hire about 100 people for its Decatur work.