European Space Agency
Competititve & Growth
Enabling Turnkey Smallsat Propulsion system
Dawn Aerospace and Com&Sens are joining forces in order to accelerate the development of both of their core technologies.
Dawn has successfully built and launched a cubesat sized chemical propulsion system (CubeDrive), and is now developing a smallsat sized thruster (SatDrive) in order to serve the 200-500kg satellite market.
Since the SatDrive makes use of unconventional self-pressurizing propellants, there are not many off-the-shelf tanks available on the European market. And the ones available are often too heavy, incompatible or too expensive for the market segment that Dawn is targeting.
Therefore, Dawn is proposing the development of smart filament wound composite pressure vessels in order to be able to supply a turnkey system to smallsat customers.
In order to accelerate the development, Com&Sens will include fiber optic sensors inside the pressure vessel during production. By being able to sense strains during the winding process, cure and pressure testing, the entire production process can be optimized, and the design of the pressure vessel will transform from an artisanal design to a knowledge-based design. This data gathering and analysis will not only speed up the initial development of the pressure vessel, but also contribute to monitoring the integrity of built pressure vessels and will result in a less costly delta qualification for new designs.
Through this collaboration, we foresee a reduction in cost for design & development lead time, manufacturing, assembly, inspection and testing (MAIT) for the SatDrive propulsion subsystem.
TIME TO MARKET
TESTING COSTS REDUCTION
The new product will offer the following features over the current products:
Turn-key chemical propulsion system which is easy to integrate;
Using green propulsion technology that is inherently scalable
more cost-effective for constellations, but also having a competitive launch mass
Without having the limitations of electric propulsion
Dawn Aerospace has an extensive background in rocket propulsion systems. Dawn Aerospace has developed a range of bi-propellant thrusters and propulsion systems. The most mature products of Dawn Aerospace in this area include the CubeDrive and the SatDrive series.
Apart from its commercially available propulsion systems based on nitrous oxide and propene, Dawn Aerospace also works on mono-propellant and bi-propellant thrusters based on highly concentrated (>87.5%) Hydrogen Peroxide. Dawn has produced, tested and qualified the pressure vessels for this project in-house
Com&Sens stands for Composites and Sensing and has a long track record in embedding optical fibers in composite materials produced by different production processes (resin infusion, resin transfer moulding, prepreg, pultrusion and especially filament winding,…).
The sensors can be used to monitor the complete life cycle of composite structures (production process but also operation and maintenance).
Com & Sens has carried out various projects for companies (both Belgian and international) that required knowledge regarding the instrumentation during filament winding of composite parts by using optical fiber technology (qualitative process monitoring, burst pressure and fatigue testing, …).