Testing of Separation Systems for Satellites in Sweden

RUAG Space is Europe's largest independent supplier of space products to the industry. At the site in Linköping, Sweden, a team of approximately 100 people are involved in the development and construction of launcher structures and separation systems for satellites and rockets. The lab in Linköping uses the data acquisition system MGCplus from HBM as the back bone of its testing, particularly in larger rigs where many channels are needed.

Exposed to enormous forces

RUAG's products have been featured in most major launchers for satellites in Europe; Ariane, Atlas and Delta, to name a few. The company's specialty - adapter with separation system between the rocket and the satellite - is critical for a launch to succeed. The separation system keeps the satellite onto the adapter until it is time to unleash it.

The adapter's task is to get the satellite to fit the rocket. The adapter, which is often conical, must ensure that the firing rocket and satellite are kept together during launch, although it is exposed to enormous forces. It must also make sure that they are separated at exactly the right moment.

Therefore, the products are rigorously tested. One of the test engineers is Peter Svensson.

"I believe that RUAG is among the best in Sweden at static load testing. With a few exceptions, all our tests are conducted on behalf of our own operation. The equipment that we have developed and tested has so far carried out almost 600 separations in space."

Test engineer Peter Svensson

Peter Svensson works as a test engineer at RUAG Space. He shares his time between the lab in Linköping and satellite launches all over the world.
Hundreds of cables lead from sensors on the bearing structure of the weather satellite when it is under testing with static loads.
RUAG in Linköping is among the best in Sweden at static load tests. They have developed and tested equipment which has been part of almost 600 separations in space – so far with a success rate of 100 percent.

User friendly solutions

When Peter does not work at home in the lab with design and testing, he takes part in launches all over the world, in places such as Kazakhstan and Florida. In the field, one of his tasks is to fasten the important separation system located between the rocket and the satellite at launch, which makes the separation from the rocket possible.

At our visit of the lab in Linköping, a giant test rig for the weather satellite Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) has been set up. MTG is a program within European Space Agency (ESA) with six satellites, aiming to be launched in 2018.

RUAG in Linköping has used MGC Plus for more than ten years and they have a long relationship with HBM.

”User friendliness of both system and software is of great importance to us, since it can be a long time between large tests. MGC Plus suits us since we need many channels simultaneously and we want to be able to measure at high speed,”

said Peter Svensson.

About RUAG Space

RUAG Space is Europe's largest independent supplier of space products to the industry. RUAG Space employs around 1,100 people at its eight sites in Switzerland, Sweden, Finland and Austria.

RUAG Space AB in Sweden specializes in highly reliable on-board satellite equipment including computer systems, antennas and microwave electronics and adapters and separation systems for space launchers. Design and manufacture of launcher adapters, satellite separation systems, satellite structures and sounding rocket guidance systems is performed in Linköping, Sweden.

RUAG also uses the measurement system QuantumX for different kinds of smaller measurement projects.

”It is great as a universal unit as it can be adapted to different quantities and temperature, with different connections. We like the flexibility. In addition, it is helpful that both of our measurement systems use the same software: Catman.”

Everywhere at the Linköping site it is clear that high requirements are put on the equipment that is to be used in space. As an example, aluminum included in RUAG’s products is of the highest standard, so called ”space quality”. Also the mechanical engineering is carried out with the greatest precision, by staff wearing white lab coats. It is not a coincident that "rocket science" has taken the wider meaning of something that is intellectually and scientifically challenging ...