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Toray celebrate inaugural mission for European rideshare service for light satellites

News International-French

9 Sep 2020

The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched and deployed over 50 satellites via their 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.

Vega flight VV16 lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. Credits: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Vidéo du CSG - JM Guillon

Vega flight VV16 lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. Credits: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Vidéo du CSG - JM Guillon

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-fiber composite skins. The skins use Toray RS-36, an epoxy-based composite material reinforced with Toray M55J high modulus carbon fiber, 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.

Vega's Samall Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser with all satellites is lowered onto the rocket's payload adapter at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Credits: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Vidéo du CSG - JM Guillon

Heritage and Innovation

Claire Baker, Segment Manager for Space and Communications Toray Advanced Composites:

“The innovation displayed with the SSMS is yet another thrilling example where old space meets new. 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”.