RWC Ships First Set of Solar Array Substrate/Back-Up Structure Assemblies for the DiskSat Program


Rock West Composites Ships First Set of
Solar Array Substrate/Back-Up Structure Assemblies for the DiskSat Program

Rock West Composites announces that this month it shipped the first four solar array substrate/back-up structure assemblies to The Aerospace Corporation in support of the DiskSat Program. The company, whose engineering team consulted on the substrate and assembly design, used their space-grade, off-the-shelf STRATO™ panels to reduce cost and lead times, plus met positional tolerances of 0.010”-0.020” without costly assembly fixtures.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) January 31, 2024 – Rock West Composites (RWC) delivered four combination solar array substrate/back-up structure assemblies to The Aerospace Corporation in support of the DiskSat Program this month. DiskSat is a NASA-funded technology demonstration program that seeks to verify the performance and deployment method of this new small-spacecraft platform. The disk-shaped satellite design has the potential to revolutionize smaller space missions through its high power, large aperture form factor that fits in the circular cross-section of a rocket fairing. By using its own off-the-shelf, space-grade STRATO products, RWC was able to significantly reduce lead time and cost, while helping define structural properties to support the mission’s innovations. If successful, follow-on missions are possible, and other prime contractors may look to use a similar form factor for volumetric and weight efficiencies.

Set of four DiskSat Assemblies
Set of four DiskSat Assemblies

Providing additional services for this build-to-print program, the RWC engineering team consulted on the design including layup, material selection, insert design, bonding methods, and manufacturing strategy. RWC used its own product, the STRATOSubstrate™ LEO class, to ensure a cost-effective solar array substrate. The team used an insert design that allowed for self-fixturing to a tight tolerance, avoiding a costly assembly fixture. The tolerances on the in-plane and out-of-plane inserts match to a global datum scheme, and tolerances were on the order of 0.010-0.020” positional.

The use of STRATOSubstrate LEO panel blanks significantly reduced raw material and blank lead time. STRATOSubstrate LEO class panels use HR40/NB321 unidirectional prepreg, NB301 film adhesive, perforated aluminum honeycomb core, and 0.002” HN Kapton. The inserts for the deliverable were BR-127 primed aluminum bonded with EA9394. The final assembly measures approximately one meter in diameter and 25 centimeters in thickness.

Close-up of the DiskSat assemblies
Close-up of the DiskSat assemblies
Detail of DiskSat assemblies' inserts
Detail of DiskSat assemblies’ inserts

“Saving our customer cost and lead time for this innovative and game-changing program by using our STRATOSubstrate LEO class of panels is exactly why we developed the STRATO product line,” said Jeremy Senne, RWC’s Space Segment Director. “We are excited about the potential for this new form factor in the exploration of space.”

About Rock West Composites

Rock West Composites is an employee-owned, advanced composites company. RWC develops, engineers, manufactures, and tests composite products for multiple industries including Space (bus structures, solar array panels and wings, strut assemblies, launch vehicle structures), Aerospace & Defense (radomes, aircraft, and weapon components) and Commercial Equipment (industrial, medical, energy, and sporting). The company is also one of the largest ecommerce suppliers of off-the-shelf carbon fiber tubes, plates, materials, and accessories.

The company’s vision is to “make the magic of composite technologies accessible to the world” by executing flawlessly and providing customers a competitive advantage, all while making it easy to buy. Rock West Composites has locations in San Diego, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Baja California, Mexico.

About The Aerospace Corporation

The Aerospace Corporation is a nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and
development center, providing technical expertise and objective analysis for our nation’s space programs.

For more information: 

Julia Willis, Director of Marketing Communications
Phone: 858-537-6260