HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
News
Materials & Assembly

Composites Boost Vega Satellite Launcher

NO RATINGS
Page 1 / 2 Next >
View Comments: Oldest First|Newest First|Threaded View
Page 1/2  >  >>
naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
The whole thing?
naperlou   3/22/2012 9:31:52 AM
NO RATINGS
Wow!  I have many years experience in the aerospace industry.  I have seen composites used, long ago, for upper stages, which operate in space.  I have not seen that done for the while launcher.  It should not be suprising considering what is being done for aircraft.  This is really interesting and a real breakthrough.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: The whole thing?
Ann R. Thryft   3/22/2012 12:43:36 PM
NO RATINGS

naperlou, I was also surprised to see composites in a launcher. It just goes to show how tough carbon fiber composites can be. The fact that Vega has already completed its maiden flight says a lot.


TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: The whole thing?
TJ McDermott   3/22/2012 3:42:23 PM
NO RATINGS
I'd be interested to learn if the range-safety package had to be scaled up or down for the material change.  The range-safety package is (usually) an explosive designed to rip open the booster in a controlled manner in case of loss of control.  This permits the propellant to burn at altitude and at zero pressure (instead of in the thrust chamber).

Is it easier or more difficult to split the side of a composite booster?

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: The whole thing?
Charles Murray   3/22/2012 6:21:58 PM
Ann, do we know what's changed here? Why weren't composites used previously in launchers and what material qualities are enabling them to be used now?

3drob
User Rank
Platinum
airborn pollutants
3drob   3/23/2012 9:47:46 AM
NO RATINGS
Do these materials pose a risk once made airborn?  Carbon fibers are certainly more dangerous than other materials (biologically) so if they atomize they may cause issues. 

But even as a bulk material, will carbon fibers simply burn up or remain as a large object falling to earth and pose a blunt object risk?

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: The whole thing?
Ann R. Thryft   3/23/2012 12:38:57 PM
NO RATINGS

TJ, those are interesting questions. I didn't find a lot of technical detail about the design. However, there's some info at this link (even though it's called a press kit):

http://download.esa.int/docs/VEGA/Vega_PressKit_06-02-2012_EN.pdf


Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: The whole thing?
Ann R. Thryft   3/23/2012 12:40:00 PM
NO RATINGS

Chuck, composites have been used in launchers before, but not for the entire shell. The reasons for their use are basically the same ones as in other aerospace apps: light weight and toughness. CFR composites just keep getting stronger. Here's some info from Hexcel:

http://www.hexcel.com/solutions/aerospace/aspace-and-launchers

http://www.hexcel.com/Solutions/Aerospace/ALaunchers


Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: airborn pollutants
Ann R. Thryft   3/23/2012 12:40:47 PM
NO RATINGS

3drob, if by airborne you mean more or less in flight, then no--CFR composites have been used in aircraft for several decades, including military aircraft:

http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=235863

and have been well tested for use in commercial planes:

http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=235214

If you mean burning up or falling back to earth, I don't see why these would be more dangerous than metals offhand. What specifically did you mean?


TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: The whole thing?
TJ McDermott   3/23/2012 12:43:00 PM
NO RATINGS
I think Thiokol's Castor solid rocket booster is a composite wound structure, but that's smaller than the Vega booster (I think).

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: airborn pollutants
Dave Palmer   3/23/2012 12:49:59 PM
NO RATINGS
@3drob: Inhalation of carbon fibers is not really all that dangerous, at least as far as inhalation of foreign substances goes. (When it comes to carbon nanotubes, it may be a different story).  At any rate, the airborne concentration of carbon fibers produced by re-entry of a launch vehicle is likely to be extremely small -- the earth's atmosphere is really big, and fibers are likely to be widely dispersed by the time they reach ground level.  Inhalation hazards are more of a concern for people working in composites manufacturing, where it is important to have adequate personal protective equipment.

Page 1/2  >  >>
Partner Zone
Latest Analysis
Take a look at the top 20 US undergraduate engineering programs. Then tell us -- did your school make the cut?
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Engineers at the University of San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have designed biobatteries on commercial tattoo paper, with an anode and cathode screen-printed on and modified to harvest energy from lactate in a person’s sweat.
A Silicon Valley company has made the biggest splash yet in the high-performance end of the electric car market, announcing an EV that zips from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and costs $529,000.
The biggest robot swarm to date is made of 1,000 Kilobots, which can follow simple rules to autonomously assemble into predetermined shapes. Hardware and software are open-source.
More:Blogs|News
Design News Webinar Series
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/17/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
6/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
5/13/2014 10:00 a.m. California / 1:00 p.m. New York / 6:00 p.m. London
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Sep 8 - 12, Get Ready for the New Internet: IPv6
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: September 30 - October 2
Sponsored by Altera
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service