In-Space Manufacturing

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Intro

Magna Parva & daughter company Kleos Space have developed an in-Space manufacturing system that will provide a method of producing huge carbon composite 3D structures in space. A prototype system has been successfully built and tested under ‘near space’ conditions at our development facility. It demonstrates the potential for the production of assemblies, equipment or even buildings from fully cured and consolidated carbon fibre materials, potentially miles in length.

The first, in-orbit manufacturing system which will provide a method of producing large-scale, carbon composite 3D structures.

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About the Technology

The new precision robotic technology manufactures 3D space structures using a supply of carbon fibres and a resin that are processed by pultrusion through a heat forming die in a continuous process, producing cured carbon composite elements of extraordinary length. As the resin and materials behave differently in space, the development has included testing under both ambient atmospheric and vacuum conditions. While pultrusion itself is an established manufacturing process, it has now been scaled down to a size where the equipment can be accommodated on spacecraft, and further work is under way to advance the technical readiness of the concept.

Our machine allows the fabrication of in-space structures that would be difficult to produce on Earth due to limitations at launch. Current pre-manufactured structures designed to go into space are high in mass and volume and have specific launch environment requirements. By manufacturing in space, many of these requirements are eliminated, allowing the production and deployment of extremely large composite structures.

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Specifications

  • Structure lengths of miles possible even with current launchers due to the compact nature of carrying only base machine + raw materials.

  • Length limited only by raw material supply.

  • Accurate, reliable, repeatable manufacturing process, closed loop control system with quality monitoring.

  • Manufacturing speed of prototype system (based on spacecraft power supply capability) is 1mm/s equating to 1 mile of structure deployed/manufactured in 18 days.

  • Constant cross-section booms.

  • Cost effective, reduced launch costs, mass for large structures increasing capability of small-sats.

  • Integration of sensors, panels, wiring, optical fibres within the structure increasing the structure utility.

  • Design for application NOT launch (mass, volume, vibration).

  • Length/size of structure potential can drive new applications.

  • Excellent mechanical properties (strength to weight).

  • Simplification of systems, no requirement for HDRMs, Pyros etc.