The project

European Carbon Fibres and Pre-Impregnated Materials for Space Applications

SpaceCarbon aims to develop European-based carbon fibres (CF) and pre-impregnated materials for launchers and satellite applications, enabling a European supply chain that is capable to reduce the dependency of the European Space sector on this critical Space technology and, therefore, reducing the risk of stopping future Space programmes, due to supply restriction and shortage of these materials from non-European sources.

SpaceCarbon is expected to create the capacity in Europe to produce specialty CF products, and related intermediate products, by promoting the development of industrial and research facilities in these products and contributing to improve Europe’s worldwide competitiveness in the field of high performance Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) structures.

Main objective

SpaceCarbon aims to implement industrial, and research and development (R&D) facilities to make Europe independent of access from non-European sources of CF and pre-impregnated materials typically used for Space applications. This will create the required industrial facilities to produce specialty CF, and related intermediate products, and will enhance European competitiveness on high performance CFRP structures for Space and non-Space sectors.

Technical Objectives

The main objective is supported by the following 6 main technical objectives:

1. Implementation, development and stabilisation at semi-industrial scale of the manufacturing process for Intermediate Modulus Carbon Fibres (IMCF) suitable for launcher applications.

2. Development of semi-industrial manufacturing process to obtain High Modulus Carbon Fibres (HMCF) suitable for satellite applications.

3. Development of semi-industrial scale pre-impregnation process to obtain Space Qualified Intermediate Modulus and High Modulus Prepregs.

4. Development of novel prepreg formulations for future Spacecraft structural composites with enhanced performance.

5. Improve European capacity to test and validate CF-based materials in Space relevant conditions.

6. Validate the developed materials by designing, manufacturing, and testing four Spacecraft composite sub-component demonstrators: two for launchers and two for satellites.

Concept and approach

SpaceCarbon is oriented for the development of European sources of raw-materials used for the manufacturing of Spacecraft composite structures, which are currently supplied only by non-European sources, aiming to reduce risk of supply restriction and shortages that could stop future European Space programs. This problem will be addressed in SpaceCarbon by the following steps:

  • Research on CFRP materials sources for European Space sector

  • High Performance Carbon Fibres Development

  • High Performance Pre-Impregnated Materials Development

  • Materials Characterisation and Qualification targeting Space applications

  • Carbon fibres and pre-impregnated material validation through demonstrators’ design, manufacturing and testing

The team

SpaceCarbon is a collaborative project built by 6 entities, coming from 5 European countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Austria and Greece). One research institution (INEGI), three large companies (Airbus ASE, AVIO and FISIPE), one SME (AAC) and one university (NTUA) will contribute with their complementary background. These complementaritiesallow the consortium to perform work not possible at an individual level. The project assembles the necessary critical mass of activities, expertise and resources to achieve the objectives in a timely and cost-effective manner.

R&D Strategy

SpaceCarbon aims to develop the semi-industrial manufacturing process for Intermediate Modulus (IM) CF(starting at TRL 6 and aimed to achieve TRL 8), targeting mainly launcher applications, and to improve the properties of thepreviously obtained High Modulus (HM) CF (starting at TRL 4) aiming at reaching a modulus in the range of 440 to 540 GPa at TRL 6. These properties will allow to enter in the range of HM CF products that are used in satellite sub-systemapplications.Moreover, the prepregs manufacturing process will be developed at semi-industrial scale to make possible to provide such materials at short-term to European Space End-users and to develop new prepreg formulations at lab scale, in view of enhancing composites performance for future Space missions. New testing methods will be developed to support the development and qualification of such materials, according to Space environment requirements. Finally, the design, manufacturing and testing of launcher and satellite sub-component demonstrators will be performed with the developed SpaceCarbon materials to validate their possible use at short and mid-term for Spacecraft structures.

Promotional Video