Composite aiming for the stars

Composite aiming for the stars
Trelleborg Engineered Fabrics supplies innovative solutions for the aerospace industry. A composite tape developed by Trelleborg is providing thermal protection for the booster rockets of VEGA (Advanced Generation European Vehicle), a launch system for commercial satellite

On April 30, 2014, a Trelleborg product was aboard Vega’s formal commercial launch from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. Trelleborg’s contribution, in partnership with Avio, which designed and manufactured Vega, is a composite material that provides thermal protection to parts of all three rocket booster stages. The composite material is made with glass fabric laminated with a special rubber sheet designed to meet specific aerospace requirements: low density, high thermal insulation, abrasion resistance and flame-retardant properties. 

During the development of its solid rocket motors in recent years, Avio began looking for a partner to help transform its thermal protection rubber, developed for manual application, into a tape format with a semiautomatic application process to be used in manufacturing solid boosters. Avio sought a company with proven reliability, technical competence, a long-term perspective and preferably with a base in Italy, says Antonio Santin, Sales Director within Trelleborg Coated Systems. 

“We were shortlisted because we had know-how in rubber and fabrics, in addition to other requisites,” Santin explains. With more than 100 years of experience in engineered fabrics and a production facility in Lodi Vecchio, southeast of Milan, Trelleborg satisfied all of Avio’s requirements. 

Vega has scheduled four additional launches beyond the three already done. This means that the composite rubber sheet produced in Lodi Vecchio will have gone into orbit seven times by the end of 2015. 

Read the full story in T-Time 1 2015 at T-Time Magazine.