Airbus Plans In-Orbit Manufacturing Demonstration In 2022 Written 14 November 2018

Aviation Week reports that Airbus plans to carry out testing of a prototype manufacturing system “based on an autonomous robotic arm” through early 2019. The design of satellites assembled in space and not subjected to the acceleration and vibration of launches “could be very different, according to Gwenaëlle Aridon, a research and development engineer at Airbus.” Structure allowing satellites to “withstand 15 min. of launch loads can account for up to half of a satellite’s weight,” and at $11,000 to $56,000 “per kilogram to launch, the extra cost is significant.” Solar panels and antenna reflectors could be larger, and researchers believe that additive manufacturing may help to develop such satellites. Companies including Made IN Space and SpiderFab are already working on this technology, “and Airbus wants a short time to market.” According to Aridon, “We are using an agile method for design and development.” The in-orbit “demonstration in 2022 will use the ISS’ infrastructure.” Virtual reality will be used to “devise a manufacturing sequence, which will be followed by the robotic arm in orbit.” 

More Info (Aviation Week)