Titomic is set to create radiation shielding for Fleet Space’s first Alpha satellites in 2023. The South Australian company’s satellites are expected to be the world’s first fully additively manufactured satellites. Titomic will use its Titomic Kinetic Fusion technology, a cold spray additive manufacturing and coating process which allows deposition and fusion of dissimilar metals, to mitigate ionizing radiation – prolonging the satellites’ lifespan.
The Alpha satellites are expected to form a constellation that will backhaul customer data from remote areas (which are not serviced by terrestrial communications). For example, Fleet Space’s technology is expected to enable the backhauling of geophysical survey data for mining exploration, which will enable the rapid 3D modeling of vast terrain.
The successful application of Titomic Kinetic Fusion for radiation shielding was accelerated by the Australian Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative grant. Under the grant, Titomic’s radiation shielding was tested and validated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), after extensive simulation and physical testing at its Lucas Heights facility. The ongoing Modern Manufacturing Initiative grant activities by Titomic also include the company’s collaboration with Boeing to create space parts with sustainable, ‘green’, titanium.
“At Fleet, our vision is to provide connectivity everywhere on Earth and beyond. This requires an increasingly innovative approach to delivering satellite technology at scale and in a manner that is economically viable. Additive manufacturing is well-suited to these requirements,” said Fleet Space CEO and co-founder, Flavia Tata Nardini. “Alpha represents a major step forward, as it will be the first time a satellite has been created entirely through 3D printing. Additive manufacturing has the further advantage of allowing us to manufacture more components in-house, ensuring supply chain stability and offering greater flexibility in our engineering approach.”
“ANSTO’s involvement in this project ensured Titomic was able to turnaround design quickly, and deliver new capabilities to the sector through ANSTO’s nuclear science and technology expertise,” said Dr. Rob Acres, Commercial Technical Consultant to ANSTO.
To create the radiation shielding, the Titomic Kinetic Fusion technology will fuse thin layers of material to produce customized, multi-material radiation shielding in a range of areal densities tailored to Alpha’s specific mission. The technology provides a cost-effective solution for shielding – protecting against harsh ionizing radiation in low-Earth orbit.
“Our additive manufactured multi-layer shielding is a simple and accessible solution to increase uptime and extend the useful life for a range of platforms,” said Titomic’s head of engineering, Max Osborne. “For example, in low-Earth orbit, a small amount of shielding provides a cost and weight-effective insurance policy for enhanced reliability and additional mission life, and for higher orbits, further shielding can even reduce a dependence on expensive, radiation-hardened components.” Titomic estimates that its coating will prolong the lifespan of the satellite significantly, and allow it to remain operational for several years longer than previous iterations.
Fleet Space’ Alpha satellites are expected to be launched into low-Earth orbit by SpaceX in 2023.