ESR at the forefront of space tribology
ESR Technology’s place at the forefront of space tribology has been reinforced recently by two major wins with the European Commission and the European Space Agency.
Space tribology considers the issues of friction, wear and lubrication in the moving parts of spacecraft mechanisms, in order to maximise the reliable and efficient performance of these mechanisms when they have to operate for long periods of time in the hostile environment of space.
Horizon 2020 REACT programme
ESR Technology is optimising the design of a new mechanism for the European Commission, in the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, to develop a range of spacecraft hold-down and release actuators.
The actuators, developed in the present REACT project are used to deploy structures such as solar panels and antenna reflectors from the sides of spacecraft after launch. In this 34-month programme, ESR’s role, worth up to €233K, will be to optimise the tribological aspects of the REACT design and then to test two units in a thermal vacuum environment.
Ionic liquid based space lubricants
ESR Technology has also won a €300K contract in competition to provide ionic liquid performance benchmarking for the European Space Agency.
The liquid lubricants currently used in spacecraft mechanisms have their limitations; ESR will undertake an in-depth and systematic investigation into the use of ionic liquids as lubricants for future applications. This project will also extend the known performance profile by validation under space-relevant conditions including both at tribometer and component level.
Simon Griffin, ESR Technology’s Business Director, said: ‘The award of these two contracts, one from the European Commission and the other from the European Space Agency confirms our position as Europe’s experts in this field’.