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Satellites are built to live in the harsh environment of space but engineers must also factor in the rigours of the journey there. ESA has helped RUAG Space Switzerland to develop new rocket fairings that offer a smoother quieter ride to space.
RUAG manufactures fairings for Europe's Ariane and Vega launchers and has recently shown how a micro-perforation of the facesheet of the panels of the fairing can reduce noise and vibrations, and how a new hinge and actuation system could reduce the shock of separating the fairing from the launch vehicle when it reaches space.
Current - Technology - Relies - System - Fairing
"Current technology relies on a simple, compact and highly dependable system that sheds the protective fairing at about three minutes into the flight at an altitude of some 100 km, which is when the rocket enters space," explained Jorgen Bru, ESA's Future Launchers Preparatory Programme Technology Manager.
"Typically two pyrotechnic mechanisms detonate to burst hinges open allowing the fairing half shells to safely separate and twist away from the payload stowed inside. It all happens in a split second and is a highly precise, synchronised event."
Devices - Fairing - Force - Technology
These pyrotechnic devices are jettisoned with the fairing. They deliver a powerful force while being relatively light and compact, and are proven technology.
"However, when these pyrotechnic devices are activated, it creates a strong shock effect which is transferred to the launcher and its payload. Satellites are designed to withstand this but companies are now requesting more comfort," added Jorgen.
Systems - Testing - Flight
Pyrotechnic systems require thorough testing before being qualified for flight, which is intense, expensive and requires...
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