For AFRL, RUAG Space will develop a configurable Rapid Electronic Power Subsystem (Rapid EPS) for satellites that will dramatically cut the lead time and cost of the power subsystem. This project leverages aspects of RUAG Space’s overall Rapid EPS development and supports RUAG Space’s ability to supply Rapid EPS to the U.S. Government/DoD markets.
Initially, this effort began with discussions led by Niklas Boman, Product Group Spacecraft Director of Marketing and Sales, focused on securing RUAG Space’s involvement in the US government’s initiative to create a Resilient Space Structure for defense purposes. “This project is a decisive door opener for further projects with the U.S. Government,” said André Wall, CEO RUAG International.
AFRL controls the entire United States Air Force Science and Technology ecosystem and budget and it leads the discovery, development and delivery of warfighting technologies for US air, space and cyberspace forces. Electronic Power Subsystems are highly critical for the operation of satellites and AFRL expects the Rapid EPS concept to deliver a “radical improvement compared to existing technological approaches,” said Dr. Robert Walters, lead of the AFRL Advanced Space Power program.
“This project is a great example for a collaboration across different product units and countries”, said Luis De León Chardel, Executive Vice President a.i. at RUAG Space. “With this technology development program, we are ultimately targeting a new EPS subsystem offering. Moving up in the value chain by strengthening RUAG Space’s subsystem portfolio offering is a key pillar of our strategy.”
Program management will be led by Kellenie Lopez, Senior Project Manager based in Denver, under Mike Allen, Director of Electronic Systems. The program will be supported from both Product Unit Mechanism in Zurich headed by Oliver Kunz, with John Ransdell serving as Project Manager, and Product Unit Interface Electronics in Tampere, Finland, lead by Timo Hänninen, with Juha Kuitunen as Project Manager. Additionally, staff in Denver and Titusville, Florida, will provide engineering design and satellite manufacturing capability.
The Rapid EPS will be designed to enable rapid configuration and rapid delivery of systems in various sizes and, furthermore, at a cost point that makes reconstitution and upgrades for satellites in LEO an attractive proposition in comparison to the current systems that are typically highly optimized and the result of long, nonrecurring engineering-intensive projects. In addition to studies, the hardware deliverables consist of a Solar Array Regulator demonstrator and a Solar Array Wing demonstrator. Both products will be assembled and tested in Titusville, Florida.
According to Mathias Burkhalter, Team Leader of Systems Engineering at Product Unit Mechanism, “The study will help RUAG to ascertain the exact degree of modularity achievable with the currently developed modular components for the Solar Array Wing and show the gaps for the future modular roadmap.”
The photovoltaic array (PVA) will be sourced by the Titusville facility from RUAG’s consortium partner, SolAero Technologies, Inc., in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Finally, know-how and skills will be built up in the Titusville facility for future manufacturing of the needed solar array panels and assembly, integration and testing (AIT) of the complete Solar Array Wing (SAW) for US customers.
For each piece of this project, RUAG leverages innovations from previous research and development. Harri Myllymäki, Lead Engineer at Product Unit Interface Electronics, explains the degree of innovation and said, “For the Solar Array Regulator, this project overcomes limitations of previous developments for other missions by introducing a new level of configurability and flexibility in the design – yielding an ability to adapt to changing spacecraft requirements with reduced non-recurring costs and lead times.”
One of the ways this is achieved is through the modular design. The other is through the use of automotive grade Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components.