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First flight for microsatellite separation system by RUAG Space on Electron rocket

(3 May 2019 - RUAG Space) RUAG Space provided the microsatellite separation system to Rocket Lab’s Electron Launch Vehicle. The 15” system serves as an adapter between satellite and rocket, and ensures a smooth separation in orbit.

The first Electron launch with this particular separation system is planned in the time period between Saturday, 4 May and Friday, 17 May, 2019 from the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand.

The Electron launcher will carry three small satellites into orbit through the U.S. Air Force’s Rapid Agile Launch Initiative on the STP-27RD mission. One of these is the S-CLASS small spacecraft platform built by York Space Systems, which will demonstrate four different payload technologies.

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RUAG microsatellite separation system PAS 381. (courtesy: RUAG)

“Our separation system product range meets the needs of all launchers—big and small,” said Peter Guggenbach, CEO RUAG Space. “We are proud that the result of our partnership with Rocket Lab and York Space Systems will now be taking its first flight, and we look forward to further collaborations.”

Result of a year-long cooperation

Rocket Lab, the developer of the world’s first fully carbon composite orbital launch vehicle, Electron, powered by 3D printed, electric pump-fed engines selected RUAG Space as its preferred supplier in mid-2018. A few months earlier, York Space Systems, an aerospace company specializing in complete space segment customer solutions and the manufacturer of standardized spacecraft platforms, formed a partnership with RUAG Space to become York’s sole supplier of separation systems for the S-CLASS spacecraft platform. As part of the collaboration, RUAG developed a customized separation system for York’s Harbinger Mission.

More than 660 separations, 100% mission success

RUAG Space is an expert in satellite separations using payload adapter systems, dispensers and separation systems. They are used for major commercial and institutional launches in the US and Europe, with more than 660 separations and 100% success rate to date. RUAG Space has been expanding its business in the small payload adapter and separation systems market in recent years and seeks to extend that impact in the small launcher market with the partnerships with Rocket Lab and York Space Systems.

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab develops and launches advanced rocket technology to provide rapid and repeatable access to orbit for small satellites. Its mission is to open access to space to improve life on Earth. Rocket Lab has developed the world’s first fully carbon composite orbital launch vehicle, Electron, which is powered by 3D printed, electric pump-fed engines. Electron is a two-stage vehicle capable of delivering payloads of 150 kg to a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit. On January 21 2018, Rocket Lab reached orbit with the launch of the Electron vehicle and successfully deployed the company’s first commercial payloads. It marked a significant milestone in eliminating commercial barriers and ushering in a new era of unprecedented access to space. Founded in 2006 by Peter Beck, Rocket Lab is headquartered in Huntington Beach, California and is a privately funded company with investors including Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, DCVC (Data Collective), Lockheed Martin, Promus Ventures and K1W1.

York Space Systems

York Space Systems has radically improved spacecraft affordability and reliability, transforming and enabling next generation space mission operations worldwide. York is one of the most innovative aerospace companies, specializing in both end-to-end customer solutions and the manufacture of spacecraft platforms in Denver. York’s S-CLASS industrial-grade platform is a standardized 3-axis stabilized spacecraft capable of supporting 85kg payloads (150kg total spacecraft mass) with up to 100W of Orbit Average Power (OAP) and 3,000W peak (Enhanced power system), while reducing the cost of manufacture by an order of magnitude. The S-CLASS spacecraft is fully compatible with all launch vehicles, including ground and air-launched, and ground segment providers. When optioned with York’s cloud-based mission tasking and operations center, an ultra-low-cost solution is available on demand for next generation data collection and analytics companies.

RUAG Space

RUAG Space is the leading supplier to the space industry in Europe, with a growing presence in the United States. With around 1,300 staff across six countries, it develops and manufactures products for satellites and launch vehicles – playing a key role both in the institutional and commercial space market.

RUAG Space is a division of the international technology Group RUAG. RUAG develops and markets internationally sought-after technology applications in the fields of aerospace and defence for use on land, in the air and in space. 56% of RUAG's products and services are destined for the commercial market and 44% for the military market. The Group is headquartered in Bern (Switzerland). It has production sites in Switzerland and in 15 other countries in Europe, the USA and Asia-Pacific. RUAG generates sales of approximately CHF 2 billion and has over 9,100 employees – 400 of whom are trainees.