March 11, 2021 – Airbus has been selected by the European Commission to study spacecraft manufacturing in space through the Horizon 2020 Programme. The PERIOD (PERASPERA In-Orbit Demonstration) project focuses on satellite assembly and manufacturing in orbit. This A/B1 phase study contract, worth € 3 million, will last two years, with the objective to continue with a demonstrator in orbit.
The “orbital factory” envisioned by PERIOD will pioneer construction of major components such as antenna reflectors, assembly of spacecraft components and satellite payload replacements, directly in space. This is the precursor to future manufacturing of large structures in orbit. Producing directly in orbit will revolutionize 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 (launcher mass and volume limitations, structural strength to withstand launch). To achieve this goal, Airbus Defence and Space in Bremen, is leading a team of seven European innovators, bringing their own expertise in fields such as robotic operation, virtual reality, and in-space assembly: DFKI, EASN-TIS, GMV, GMV-SKY, ISISPACE, SENER Aeroespacial and Space Applications Services.