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Airbus Defence and Space Lampoldshausen celebrates half century

Airbus Defence and Space Lampoldshausen celebrates 50 years

Production centre expansion – official opening by the State Minister for Financial and Economic Affairs

Airbus Defence and Space’s successful 50-year history of developing, producing and testing space propulsion systems in Lampoldshausen is set to continue. By 2014, the company will have invested €7m in expanding its operations at the site in response to ongoing growth in global demand for satellite propulsion systems. Dr. Nils Schmid, Minister of Financial and Economic Affairs for the German state of Baden-Württemberg, today inaugurated the first phase of the extension to the production centre as part of the anniversary celebrations. This important step forward for the site increases the production area from roughly 2,500m² to some 3,500m². There are currently around 350 highly qualified Airbus Defence and Space employees working in Lampoldshausen, Europe’s centre of competence for orbital propulsion.

High-tech site and economic driving force

The site near Heilbronn is dedicated to engines, and its production and test facilities are among the most modern in Europe. It all began in 1963, when businessman Ludwig Bölkow dispatched six employees to Lampoldshausen to work closely with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to set up the first test facility and vacuum chamber there. This laid the foundations for the development of rockets and propulsion systems at the site.

Airbus Defence and Space’s prospects are good

“Airbus Defence and Space’s Lampoldshausen success story is one we want to continue into the future, and each special milestone we reach spurs us on,” said Josef Köcher, head of the Lampoldshausen site and head of Orbital Propulsion. “The workforce at the Lampoldshausen site has doubled in the last five years, and we are now following this up by investing in buildings and facilities. Our site’s main focus is our broad portfolio of chemical and electrical space propulsion systems. We have pooled all our propulsion systems knowledge and expertise here in Lampoldshausen, which puts us in a strong position to keep up the good work both within the company and on the worldwide market.”

Strong market presence. Convincing performance.

Nowadays, practically all European satellites launched into space have thrusters and propulsion systems made in Lampoldshausen. Airbus Defence and Space offers tailored solutions for in-space propulsion that range from individual system components such as micro engines through to complete propulsion systems for communications and science satellites. These engines ensure that satellites and their probes reach and maintain their final orbital path. Over 230 satellites execute manoeuvres using solutions provided by Airbus Defence and Space. The product portfolio includes propulsion solutions for Attitude Control Systems such as those used for the upper stages of Ariane 5 and the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). The company’s range of products and services covers the entire value chain, from development, production, integration, engine and system tests through to services such as satellite fuelling.

Propulsion systems, large and small

Lampoldshausen’s smallest propulsion systems deliver a thrust of no greater than 15mN – just a tiny wisp of energy in space. At the other end of the spectrum, Airbus Defence and Space also produces powerful apogee motors which despite their modest size deliver a thrust of 500N – roughly equivalent to the performance of a Formula 1 racing car.

Our bestseller: the Unified Propulsion System (UPS)

Engineers at the engine foundry developed the Unified Propulsion System (UPS) to give satellites the longest possible service life and at the same time reduce their mass as far as possible. The UPS is a fully pre-integrated propulsion system consisting of up to 16 10-newton micro thrusters for tracking and attitude control combined with a 400-newton apogee motor, all linked to two fuel tanks. This propulsion system is performing extremely well on board numerous large European communication satellites.

Chemical and electric thrusters

In addition to chemical propulsion systems, Airbus Defence and Space also develops electric thrusters at the site. Airbus Defence and Space engineers have devised an efficient alternative to conventional chemical propulsion systems in the form of the Radiofrequency Ion Thruster Assembly (RITA). The ion engine has a high specific impulse and very low fuel consumption, making it especially well suited for powering satellites and probes in space.

Ariane 5 launcher

Last but not least, Airbus Defence and Space Lampoldshausen is involved in the Ariane programme. The site tests the AESTUS upper stage engine and supplies the SCA Attitude Control System for the Ariane 5, as well as providing the SCA for the upper stage of the VEGA launcher.

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