Muñoz points out that Seville’s candidacy is based on foundations as solid as those represented by CATEC and Aerópolis
The mayor of Seville, Antonio Muñoz, today received the express support of the Advanced Center for Aerospace Technologies (CATEC), managed by the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (FADA) and located in Aerópolis, for the city’s candidacy to host the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency.
“The evident proof of the strength of the aerospace industry in Seville is found in facilities like this one at CATEC, where technologies and components for space missions are produced. It is, I repeat, clear proof of business, technological and innovative strength and of participation in international space programs and it will be one of the main arguments that we will bring to the candidacy dossier”, he said.
“Seville’s candidacy is based on foundations as solid as those represented by CATEC and Aerópolis. It is a project for the entire city, for the entire province of Seville, and we want it to be a project for all of Andalusia as well. For this reason, we are here, in the municipality of La Rinconada, to claim the metropolitan character of our candidacy”, according to the councilor, who has recalled that a candidacy is proposed from a public-private alliance.
“We are the center of the space industry in Andalusia and we aspire to be so at a national level. We have already added more than 200 adhesions from companies, institutions and organizations from all over Andalusia and we have more than 12,000 people and professionals who have signed their support. And for next week, when we have to present the official candidacy, we are sure that we will increase this figure”, added Antonio Muñoz, who was accompanied on his tour of CATEC by its director, Joaquín Rodríguez, and the Technical, Materials and Processes director, Fernando Lasagni, as well as by the delegate of Economy, Commerce and Tourism of the City Council, Francisco Páez.
The CATEC facilities have a total of 4,500 m2 (3,000 m2 of laboratories and workshops, and 1,500 m2 of offices) and are located in Aerópolis, the only business space in Europe dedicated exclusively to the aerospace sector in La Rinconada, Seville. It currently has a staff of more than 90 employees, mostly doctors and researchers, whose main degrees are Engineering (Aeronautics, Industrial, Telecommunications, Materials and Computer Science), Physical or Chemical Sciences.
At the moment they are manufacturing elements of a satellite that is going to participate in missions on Mars and Jupiter. Specifically, CATEC has developed several products by 3D metal printing, both for aircraft, helicopters, launchers, satellites and spacecraft. Together with its partners, it has delivered flight hardware for critical and non-critical components, such as supports for the solar panels of the QUANTUM satellite, hardware for the CHEOPS satellite, a helical antenna for the PROBA3 satellite, supports for the star trackers of a South American satellite and finally part of the structure of the JUICE spacecraft that will study the icy moons of Jupiter.
In the CATEC facilities, several of these parts have been designed (in collaboration with Airbus) and manufactured for this satellite. Specifically, the supports of the titanium solar panels, applying 3D printing technology or also called additive manufacturing. These parts were developed and delivered by CATEC in 2016, and at that time they were one of the first manufactured by technology of a critical nature from the structural and functional point of view, fully qualified for space.This development process demanded extensive knowledge of technology and maturity, where all the associated processes had to be qualified, from the storage and monitoring of the raw material, the application of post processes such as heat treatments, improvement of the surface finish, machining of the interfaces, and finally the verification methods and non-destructive qualification, resorting in this case to X-ray computed tomography.
Additive manufacturing is, precisely, one of the main lines of activity and specialization of the Andalusian technological center, in which it has been working for more than a decade, when this technology was still emerging. 3D printing is one of the processes that brings the greatest benefits to the space sector, in which the reduction of weight, manufacturing times and costs are important. All these years of experience and research have served CATEC to develop more than 100 aerospace applications for launchers, satellites and space probes.
CATEC and the Spanish engineering company CiTD have developed together with Airbus and the European Space Agency (ESA) a new generation of structural hardware manufactured using additive manufacturing technology, known as 3D printing, for the new JUICE scientific space mission. This mission, led by ESA, aims to develop a space probe that aims to study Jupiter and its satellites: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.
It is thought that there could be oceans under the surface of these satellites, so JUICE, the ‘Jupiter Ice Moons Explorer’ in its English acronym, will study the ability of these three moons to host life, dealing with two of the issues of the Cosmic Vision program: what are the conditions for the formation of planets and the appearance of life, and how does the Solar System work. JUICE has a long journey before reaching Jupiter, having to make different approaches to gain enough acceleration and power. In this way, the space probe must first undertake its flight to Venus and thus be exposed to the high temperatures of the orbit, and iterate again in the sequence Earth, Mars, Earth and finally Jupiter, where temperatures are very low.
The main problem that the designers of the spacecraft seek to overcome is the great distance that it will have to control with respect to the Sun, as it is its source of energy and also the strong radiation emitted by the planet Jupiter. This mission represents a great challenge for the European industry, being at the limit of the existing technology. Its viability depends on the optimization of each of its subsystems: energy, propulsion and structure, for extreme conditions during the journey of more than 7 years, and the operation on Jupiter.
Within the objective of optimizing the structure of the ship led by the main contractor Airbus Defense & Space and ESA, a mission weight reduction campaign has been defined that supports the integration of structural components developed in additive manufacturing (3D printing ). This is where the team made up of the CITD and CATEC companies play a fundamental role, thanks to Airbus D&S’s commitment to the application of additive manufacturing in this great challenge to Jupiter. Both entities will be in charge of developing new structural fittings that, thanks to this new technology, allow their mass to be lightened by 50% compared to their equivalents developed by conventional technologies.
Sener Aerospace and CATEC developed the telemetry and telecommand antennas for the Proba-3 mission of the European Space Agency (ESA). It is one of the first space antennas developed with metallic 3D printing technology in the world and the first one manufactured in Spain, which is a milestone for the Spanish space sector.
In this way, the vision of both companies that it was feasible to use this type of solutions as an alternative to manufacturing by conventional technologies in those cases where the latter do not offer a valid solution was confirmed.
The helical antenna was printed in an aluminum alloy and has been subjected to demanding verification and qualification tests, thus obtaining the flight permit for the ESA Proba-3 mission. It was a complicated challenge to manufacture and qualify the metallic 3D-printed antenna, with all the advantages it brings, while maintaining both radio-frequency and thermo-mechanical performance.