Launching a satellite into space requires sophisticated and innovative technology — as does the design to manufacturing process preceding it. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) is the first professional organisation to offer low-cost small satellites within rapid time scales, using advanced terrestrial technology. The company’s Sevenoaks-based Optical Payload Group is using Edgecam’s software solution to machine electro-optical instruments for space applications.
Designed and built by SSTL, GIOVE-A, the first satellite in orbit for Europe's Galileo navigation system.
Image courtesy of ESA.
The range of instruments developed by the Optics group includes multispectral and hyperspectral imagers for environmental, commercial and military applications; environmental ozone monitors; infrared fire and hotspot detection imagers; space debris monitoring cameras; and satellite-to-satellite broadband optical communication instruments.
The Group manufactures to order for a broad customer base, which includes the European Space Agency, commercial companies and governments of countries that are keen to join the space race. SSTL designed, built and delivered the first European Galileo satellite, GIOVE-A, launched in December 2005 and vigorously pursues its vision of providing customers with affordable, frequent and rapid access to space.
Edgecam is used in the manufacture of structures for mounting the optics and for avionics modules — basically, metal boxes which house the electronics — machined in one piece from a billet or as ‘honeycomb’ panels. Two thin skins bonded together with a honeycomb core form a light but rigid structure, which can be used for solar panels and other parts of the satellite platform.
Metal enclosures are designed according to the customer’s specification to accommodate the optical modules required. Each job is quite different from another, often involving numerous angles, with pockets cut out of the metal wherever possible in order to reduce weight — a vital consideration with aerospace applications. A wide range of standard and exotic materials is used — from stainless steels to aircraft grade aluminium and titanium — each presenting particular machining requirements.The manufacturing team at SSTL finds Edgecam very user friendly and straightforward for machining the complex shapes for the metal housings.
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense, CAM software, Software