2nd Batch of Airbus' Sparkwing Solar Panels Selected by Aerospacelab to Accommodate Serial Production of Satellites

October 13, 2022


An additional six of Airbus’ Sparkwing solar panels have been selected by Aerospacelab to accommodate their ramp up towards higher satellite production volumes. The panels are designed and produced at Airbus’ Dutch site in Leiden. The ordered configuration, consisting of two single panel wings, each measuring 1070x570mm, is identical to the set recently delivered by Airbus for the first flight model of Aerospacelab’s Very High Resolution (VHR) mission.

The stiffness of the solar panels concept for small satellites is key for Aerospacelab’s VHR mission, which requires high agility and stability of the platform as it allows for better quality pictures in quicker succession. This feature is brought in by an intelligently designed hinge that provides a high stiffness design out of a very small volume. Further, the minimal integration effort needed for the solar panels is an asset in the satellite’s assembly and integration flow, especially during the envisaged production ramp up at the megafactory that Aerospacelab opened in Belgium this summer.

Rob Postma, Chief Executive Office of Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands: “We are happy to see the first customer of this product coming back for a follow-on order. It confirms that the delivery of our initial flight model has been well received. We see that our catalogue approach for small satellites, strong supply chain support and short through-put times, lower the risks for our customer and produce a reliable solution. It proves that our fully qualified product can deliver on its promise of “Space made easy”. We look forward to extending our good relationship with Aerospacelab for a continued collaboration.”

Established in Belgium, Switzerland and France, Aerospacelab is a fast-growing company created in 2018, counting more than 140 full time employees. With a unique vertically integrated approach, Aerospacelab is specialized in satellite platforms and geospatial intelligence. It designs, manufactures, and operates constellations of remote sensing satellites, empowering intelligence and insights by its proprietary satellite data.

“The smartly designed solar panel concept supports Aerospacelab in accomplishing the manufacturing of affordable and high-performance satellites. The pragmatic approach was in line with our serial production objectives, so we are very grateful to be able to have Sparkwing for the next six flight sets,” said Benoit Deper, Aerospacelab founder and CEO. “We have been impressed by Airbus’ ability to produce commercially available, off-the-shelf solar array for LEO small satellites, and are looking forward to a fruitful relationship.”
Sparkwing-Aerospace lab CEO picture

Rob Postma, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands, and Benoit Deper, founder and CEO of Aerospacelab with the first flight model Sparkwing solar array for Aerospacelab Photo: Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands

Sparkwing is the world’s first commercially available, off-the-shelf solar array for small satellites. It is optimised for Low Earth Orbit missions that require power levels between 100W and 2000W. It offers customers a choice of more than thirty different panel dimensions, configurable into deployable wings with one, two or three panels per wing.

Next to power generation, the solar array product provides a high stiffness, single actuation need (due to only one hold-down per wing), minimal integration effort (made for integration by the customer) and gentle demands on the spacecraft sidewall tolerances. Sparkwing is a product developed by Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands B.V., with the support of the Netherlands Space Office and ESA.

Source : Airbus Defense and Space

2nd Batch of Airbus' Sparkwing Solar Panels Selected by Aerospacelab to Accommodate Serial Production of Satellites