Kleos Space, the ASX-listed state-of-the-art space technology operator, has signed a second Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus Defence and Space, as both companies investigate opportunities to collaborate for the manufacture In-Space of structural elements.
Kleos Space and parent Magna Parva (UK) have developed an In-Space manufacturing system that will provide a method of producing huge carbon composite 3D structures in space. A prototype system has been successfully built and tested under ‘near space’ conditions at Kleos’ development facility. It demonstrates the potential for production of assemblies, equipment or even buildings from fully cured and consolidated carbon fibre materials, potentially miles in length.
The Kleos Space precision robotic technology manufactures 3D space structures using a supply of carbon fibres and a resin that are processed by pultrusion through a heat forming die in a continuous process, producing cured carbon composite elements of extraordinary length. As the resin and materials behave differently in space, the development has included testing under both ambient atmospheric and vacuum conditions.
While pultrusion itself is an established manufacturing process, it has now been miniaturised down to a size where the equipment can be accommodated on spacecraft, and further work is under way to advance the technical readiness of the concept.
The Kleos Space machine allows the fabrication of In-Space structures that would be difficult to produce on Earth due to limitations at launch.
Current pre-manufactured structures designed to go into space are high in mass and volume and have specific launch environment requirements. By manufacturing in space, many of these requirements are eliminated, allowing the production and deployment of extremely large composite structures.
Airbus is prospecting In-Space manufacturing with a view to developing and accessing the required capabilities in Europe. In this capacity Airbus has agreed to support Kleos with guidance and expertise, enabling the development of applicable 3D structures.
This complements the first MoU between the companies to expand the international market of radio frequency monitoring and transmitter geolocation linked to Kleos Space’s 20-system satellite constellation that will geolocate VHF transmissions from marine vessels to provide global activity-based intelligence data as a service.
The Kleos Space satellites will detect radio transmissions and locate their origin and timing, enabling governments and organisations to detect activity such as drug and people smuggling, illegal fishing and piracy, as well as identify those in need of search and rescue at sea.