Press Release

New Airbus Defence and Space Integration Centre for Space Propulsion Systems Begins Operation

By SpaceRef Editor
October 24, 2014
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Today, in the presence of Reinhold Gall, Minister of the Interior in Baden-Württemberg, Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, began operations at its new integration centre for satellite propulsion components and sub-systems in Lampoldshausen. More than 2.5 million euros have been invested in the new building, increasing the available production area from approximately 2,500 to 3,100 square metres. The new centre enables the integration of larger components and systems.

“Airbus Defence and Space has now been developing, producing and testing space propulsion components and systems in Lampoldshausen for 50 years. The new integration hall means that we are now in a position to efficiently expand our integration capabilities and possibilities in respect of propulsion solutions for the global market,” said Josef Köcher, Lampoldshausen Site Manager and the Head of Orbital and Electrical Propulsion.

“Today, more than 300 highly qualified people work for Airbus Defence and Space in Lampoldshausen, developing propulsion components and systems for our customers worldwide. The expansion of the clean room integration area enables us to better respond to the globally increasing need for complete propulsion system solutions. The strategy of focusing not only on components, but also on propulsion sub-systems with the corresponding engineering and other services, is gradually paying off.”

The site’s broad product portfolio focuses on space propulsion systems, encompassing both chemical and electrical.

Rarely is a European satellite launched nowadays whose propulsion components do not come from Lampoldshausen. Airbus Defence and Space provides customised space propulsion solutions, ranging from individual system components such as small thrusters right up to complete propulsion systems. More than 230 satellites are in operation thanks to the contribution made by Airbus Defence and Space in Lampoldshausen.

The company’s product portfolio also comprises propulsion solutions for attitude control systems, such as for the upper stage of the Ariane 5 as well as for spacecraft like the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). In doing so, the company covers the entire value-added chain, from development, production and integration to engine and system tests, all the way up to services such as the fuelling of satellites.

As well as chemical propulsion systems, Airbus Defence and Space in Lampoldshausen also develop electric propulsion thruster technology. With the radio-frequency ion thruster assembly, the company’s engineers have created the technology to enable efficient means of operating satellites and probes in space using high specific impulses, while at the same time keeping fuel consumption very low.

The Airbus Defence and Space site in Lampoldshausen is also involved in the Ariane programme. The pressure control unit for the AESTUS upper stage engine is integrated in Lampoldshausen. Additionally, Lampoldshausen is testing and delivering the AESTUS upper stage engine and the engines for the SCA attitude control system for the Ariane 5. The attitude control system for the upper stage of the VEGA launcher also features in Airbus Defence and Space’s Lampoldshausen portfolio.

Note to editors:
With production and test facilities that are among Europe’s most advanced, the focus of the site in Lampoldshausen near Heilbronn is entirely on engines. It all began in 1963, when entrepreneur Ludwig Bölkow sent six employees to Lampoldshausen, where they joined forces with the German Aerospace Center to establish the first test facility with a vacuum chamber. The foundation for the development of rockets and propulsion systems was thus laid.

The smallest thrusters from Lampoldshausen provide a thrust of no more than 0.015 newtons – just a tiny splutter in outer space. And at the other end of the product spectrum, powerful apogee motors provide a thrust in excess of 400 Newtons that belies their compact dimensions. This roughly equates to the output of a Formula 1 vehicle.

To ensure that satellites achieve their maximum service life of up to 15 years while at the same time reducing their weight as much as possible, the engineers at the thruster manufacturer in Lampoldshausen developed the unified propulsion system (UPS). The UPS is a completely pre-integrated propulsion system with up to 16 small 10 N propulsion units designed for orbital and attitude control and a 400 N apogee motor, all fed from two fuel tanks. This system from Lampoldshausen is successfully used on board numerous large European communications satellites.

About Airbus Defence and Space
Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs some 40,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €14 billion per year.


Ralph Heinrich
+ 49 89 607 33971

SpaceRef staff editor.