Airbus Defence and Space

From space to the ocean depths

Friedrichshafen, 2 April 2008 – Space technology developed by Europe’s leading space company Airbus Defence and Space will soon be installed on French submarines.

  • Space to be installed on French submarines
  • Airbus Defence and Space to equip Barracuda fleet with life-support systems

Airbus Defence and Space has developed a binding carbon dioxide (CO2) regenerative process for the International Space Station (ISS). Carbon dioxide is exhaled by human beings as a metabolic by-product and is noxious in high concentrations. It must therefore be removed from the air of any ‘closed’ atmosphere such as the space station or in submarines.

This technology developed by Airbus Defence and Space is now to be used on board the latest French submarine series ‘Barracuda’. Airbus Defence and Space was recently awarded the development and supply contract for this by the naval defence company DCNS in Cherbourg.

Airbus Defence and Space’s space experts won the contract after a four-year long competition in the face of established international rivals from the naval sector.

“This is the first time Airbus Defence and Space has adapted its technology developed for human spaceflight for use on French submarines. It's a great success," says Alain Charmeau, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. The French navy is a key customer in this area. In total, all six boats of the Barracuda class are to be equipped with the Airbus Defence and Space life support system. The first vessel will be operational in 2017, and the others will be completed at two-year intervals.

The decisive factor in Airbus Defence and Space’s favour was that the company had achieved an excellent air quality for the ISS system using minimum energy and a compact design, required for space applications. The CO2 binding system is supplemented by an aggregate for controlling toxic substances, with which odours and other gases can be reliably bound and removed.

Airbus Defence and Space’s energy and life-support systems department in Friedrichshafen is the European centre of competence in this field. The life-support system for the European ISS Columbus module, which was docked to the Space Station on 10 February this year, was developed in Friedrichshafen. Some 25 staff work in this department, specialising in the development of closed systems designed to create comfortable living conditions for people in enclosed spaces using a minimum amount of resources. “In addition to being used on space stations, lunar or Mars-based stations and submarines, such ‘closed-loop’ processes could conceivably be of benefit to other areas in future, such as ground vehicles or aircraft, especially in view of the increasing burden on the environment,” says Dr Willigert Raatschen, head of the energy and life support systems department at Airbus Defence and Space.

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2007, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €3.5 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, and Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment, and its wholly owned subsidiary Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services.

AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2007, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €39.1 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116, 000.


Media Contacts:

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Phone: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872