RUAG Space has just passed a review for a very large part of what will become the Payload Fairing tor ULA’s Atlas V-500 at their factory in the U.S. furthering the company’s focus on market growth in the U.S. This is the company’s first piece of hardware that has been constructed in the U.S. The process involved many participants, and understandably, it is critical to pass every test to ensure safe transport into space.
A Manufacturing Readiness Review (MRR) is a formal examination of a program to determine if the design is ready for production and if the producer has accomplished adequate production planning. MRR topics presented included infrastructure, quality, safety, and all related aspects.
The MRR was conducted from November 6-8 in RUAG’s facility in Decatur — which is a part of ULA’s rocket factory — and approval of readiness to perform the bonding processes of the first U.S.-made United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V-500 payload fairing. Participants included ULA, the U.S. Air Force, NASA, the Aerospace Corporation and RUAG Space were all in attendance.
Mike Morningstar, President and Country Manager for RUAG Space USA, Inc. said that this milestone emphasized his company’s commitment and focus on market growth within the United States.
RUAG Space in Decatur began production of Payload Fairing flight hardware on November 26. Previous production deliveries from this facility were 5, 400-ISAs (Interstage Adapters for the 400 series of the Atlas V) built partially in Switzerland and the U.S., which were all successfully delivered on time.
The second half of the MRR process will occur tentatively in mid-February, 2019. The first full payload fairing is set to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2019, to support a launch in 2020.
The RUAG Space Atlas V-500 fairing is made with composite technology based on aluminum honeycomb cores with carbon fiber reinforced plastic face sheets. It uses a state-of-the-art process — called Out-of-Autoclave — that cures the structure in one piece in an industrial oven. A demonstration test fairing was completed through the bonding processes earlier this year. The demonstration test fairing went through the complicated production process seamlessly, leveraging the latest automation technology, and went through significant testing and inspection.
RUAG Space payload fairings come in flexible measurements to fit the respective launcher. For an Atlas V-500, the fairings have a diameter of 5.4 meters (17.72 feet) and have a height of up to 26.5 meters (87 feet). Payload fairings are designed to protect the launcher’s payload on its way into orbit, from outside temperature and pressure during the launch.
RUAG Space has been supplying Atlas V-500 fairings, built in Switzerland, to ULA for more than a decade.