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Toray celebrates launch of European rideshare service for light satellites

The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully launched and deployed over 50 satellites via its Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) modular rideshare system

4th September 2020

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Nottingham, UK


On 2 September 2020, Vega flight VV16 lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana to progressively deliver 53 light satellites into Sun-synchronous orbits at 515 km and 530 km altitude on a mission lasting 124 minutes. © ESA.

Nottingham UK based Toray Advanced Composites is celebrating the successful inaugural mission of the European rideshare service for light satellites.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully launched and deployed over 50 satellites via its Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) modular rideshare system. The innovative modular payload dispenser will make satellite launch more accessible and affordable and is made using Toray Advanced Composites’ RS-36 space-approved composite materials.

The new Vega Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) comprises an innovative modular dispenser, launched in the fairing of the Vega rocket. The dispenser is designed and manufactured by SAB Aerospace (Czech Republic) for ESA’s Vega prime contractor Avio (Italy). The dispenser can house up to 50 satellites per launch and is modular in design, allowing module to be configured to suit each individual launch requirement, therefore maximising payload availability and minimising cost for launch.

The SSMS system is made using lightweight sandwich panels, with full carbon-fibre composite skins. The skins use Toray RS-36, an epoxy-based composite material reinforced with Toray M55J high modulus carbon fibre, which provides strength, stiffness, and stability for the overall structure. The materials were supplied by Toray Advanced Composites’ European Centre of Excellence for thermoset systems in Langley Mill (Nottingham), UK.

Heritage and Innovation

“The innovation displayed with the SSMS is yet another thrilling example where old space meets new,” commented Claire Baker, Segment Manager for Space and Communications Toray Advanced Composites.

“Established material technology such as Toray RS-36 is enabling the space community to innovate with confidence, with strong heritage and reliability of space qualified materials. Together, this makes space more accessible to small satellite companies like never before. We hope plenty more missions are watching and waiting to book rides in the future.”

Toray Advanced Composites is a leader in the development and production of advanced thermoplastic and thermoset composite materials. The broad product portfolio is incorporated in high-performance products for aerospace, space, communications, automotive, consumer, and industrial applications. Production and operation facilities are in North America, Europe, and Asia. Toray Advanced Composites is a subsidiary of the Toray Group.

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