Additive Manufacturing: ESAF

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Reflex Aerospace To Commence Manufacturing After Successful Feasibility Study with AMBER

Berlin, Germany, 5 September 2023  

Reflex Aerospace heralds a new dawn for satellite accuracy and efficiency with the successful completion of the first milestone of its trailblazing project, “Entwicklung einer integrativen Satellitenstruktur durch Einsatz Additiver Fertigungsverfahren (Development of an integrative satellite structure through the use of additive manufacturing processes)” or ESAF.

In a pioneering step that promises to redefine satellite external pointing precision, ESAF’s advanced techniques can drastically increase the accuracy of instruments like star trackers and antennas. By combining the power of generative design—which uses AI-driven optimization processes to design components—and additive manufacturing, ESAF is primed to introduce significant reductions in mass, production time, and cost.

Central to this breakthrough is the integration of sensors directly into the satellite component during the printing process. This innovative approach, unmatched in the current market, will offer precise measurements of internal deformations caused by temperature fluctuations. Collaborating with the esteemed Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT, the only institute with the prowess to embed sensors within 3D printed parts, Reflex Aerospace underscores its commitment to unparalleled quality and innovation.

Speaking on the next stages, Ferdinand Fürstenau, Space Mission Manager on the ESAF project, revealed, “We’re gearing up to design and print a star tracker bracket, leading to a series of rigorous tests. Our aim? To prove that thermal deformations can be accurately determined using our integrated sensors. Once this is affirmed, we’ll be a step closer to enhancing the accuracy of satellite orientation for countless future missions.”

In the last months, the dedicated team at Reflex has already showcased rapid advancements. “Our team’s passion and expertise are the accelerants propelling ESAF’s success. We’re not just reaching milestones; we’re setting new industry standards,” added Fürstenau.

Apart from its robust research endeavors, what truly sets Reflex Aerospace apart is its agility. The company stands as a beacon of efficiency in the space tech sector, promising a mere 12-month turnover from project initiation to completion.

Reflex’s alliance with AMBER, backed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (EFRE) and state grants, reinforces its commitment to pushing the frontiers of space technology.

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LOGO reflex ESAF 72-08 1

The primary goal of the Entwicklung einer integrativen Satellitenstruktur durch Einsatz Additiver Fertigungsverfahren (ESAF) project is to design and print a structure on which the star tracker of a satellite will be mounted.

A star tracker is a device aboard satellites that determines their orientation in space by analyzing the positions of stars in the sky. This structure will be embedded with temperature sensors and strain gauges. These sensors will measure the deformation of the structure due to the effects of temperature fluctuations and mechanical strain experienced by satellites in space.

By measuring the deformation of the structure using the strain gauges, we will determine misalignment errors of the star tracker caused by the thermo-elastic effects of the satellite structure. This information will give us crucial data that enables us to adjust and further compensate for errors caused by misalignment on the star tracker.

About Reflex Aerospace

Reflex Aerospace, a NewSpace startup founded in 2021 and headquartered in Munich and Berlin, offers rapid, payload-centric, dual-use, secure-by-design small satellite solutions. They apply modern manufacturing advancements to a unique design process resulting in enhanced reliability, the highest-performing core avionics in class, and improved delivery times.

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