With more than 600 satellites in orbit the OneWeb constellation is set to provide global broadband coverage by year-end. The structure panels of all 650 OneWeb satellites were developed and produced by Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG Space), a leading space supplier and the global leader in satellite structures. “With automated processes, flexibility and lean operations we demonstrated the unique capability of producing very high volumes on time”, says Anders Linder, EVP Division Satellites. The structure is the satellite’s chassis, providing a supporting framework for its instruments and subsystems.
Revolutionary production method
Beyond Gravity manufactured the satellite panels for OneWeb at its site in Titusville, Florida and delivered them to OneWeb’s manufacturing factory, Airbus OneWeb Satellites in Merritt Island, Florida. The satellite structures were produced using the patented Automated Potting Machine (APM) Process for the installation of inserts. The APM process—developed by Beyond Gravity—is a revolutionary production method that uses a tailored CNC machine to rapidly position special inserts filled with adhesive into the satellite structure’s sandwich panels—significantly reducing time and costs.
“With automated processes, flexibility and lean operations we demonstrated the unique capability of producing very high volumes on-time”.Anders Linder, EVP Division Satellites at Beyond Gravity
Beyond Gravity’s satellite structures are made either out of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics in sandwich construction or out of Aluminum Sandwich Panels. The panels are fitted with inserts to attach equipment such as instruments or sensors. A large communications satellite has more than 2500 inserts. Thanks to the APM Insert Installation process, the manual processes previously required to place these inserts have been eliminated. The APM process allows for scalable production lines, repeatability for high volumes, while allowing for late changes for customization. “Our designs can be adapted to subsequent changes if needed. We are very flexible”, says Nicholas West, VP Business Development US. “Customers benefit from short development cycles and low risk.”
High volumes as well as custom-made
Beyond Gravity is capable of developing and manufacturing both high volumes for serial production as well as custom-made structures. Some examples for sophisticated satellite structures: For the Artemis Service Module as well as for the ExoMars mission, Beyond Gravity supplied structures, which form part of the spacecraft’s chassis. Beyond Gravity also designed and assembled the optical bench of the planet-hunting mission PLATO, on which 26 cameras will be mounted.
On the other hand, Beyond Gravity can deliver satellites structure panels with highest-in-this-industry manufacturing cadence, short turn around and application of industrialization and quality standards. “In both areas we profit from our decade-long experience, our 100% in orbit success rate and our proximity to customers in the USA—with our site in Titusville—and in Europe—with our site in Zurich, Switzerland”, says Anders Linder.
Strong US footprint
In the USA, Beyond Gravity has production sites in Decatur (AL) and Titusville (FL). Beyond Gravity USA Inc. is a U.S. incorporated company. The Beyond Gravity site in Titusville is located next to the AirbusOneWeb satellite production facility. “Titusville is an important element in our strategy to grow in the US satellites market”, emphasizes Nicholas West. In Decatur Beyond Gravity produces launchers structures.
More about Beyond Gravity’s space mechatronics portfolio:
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