Spacecraft manufacturing: European Commission selects Airbus

By Georgia Wilson
European Commission selects Airbus to study spacecraft manufacturing in space via the Horizon 2020 Programme...

Known as the PERIOD (PERASPERA In-Orbit Demonstration) project, Airbus has been selected by the European Commission to study spacecraft manufacturing in space via the Horizon 2020 Programme.

The PERIOD (PERASPERA In-Orbit Demonstration) project

The PERIOD (PERASPERA In-Orbit Demonstration) project - worth €3mn - will last two years focusing on satellite assembly and manufacturing in orbit. 

The ‘orbital factory’ that PERIOD envisions is expected to pioneer the construction of major components directly in space - a precursor to the future of manufacturing large structures in orbit. 

It is said that “producing directly in orbit will revolutionise the way space systems are designed, built and operated. It has significant advantages over the traditional approach – where everything is produced on Earth and subsequently transported to space – since objects made in space are freed from the constraints and requirements of launch,” states Airbus. 

To achieve their shared goal, Airbus Defence and Space is leading a team of seven European innovators to bring their expertise in multiple fields including robotic operation, virtual reality, and in-space assembly to the project.

“Airbus has been working on in-orbit manufacturing technologies for more than a decade and the PERIOD programme will help Europe move its combined technological know-how to the next level. Future large scale space systems can only be manufactured and assembled in orbit, so it’s crucial that Europe is at the forefront of this key capability,” commented Silvio Sandrone, head of Space Exploration future projects at Airbus.

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Via the PERIOD project the programme aims to demonstrate the value of in space servicing, manufacturing and assembly, as well as help Europe develop its capability and industrial infrastructure by stimulating future research and generating new market opportunities. 

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