The aerospace sector is trending towards small, standardised satellites (CubeSats) that offer affordable access to space. Their standard edge length of 10 cm does present a disadvantage, however, as it significantly limits the missions these satellites can support. To get around these limitations, deployable structures like antennas or sails are being used, which are deployed once a satellite is in orbit. This opens the door to high-performance applications that are typically only possible with large satellites. Initiating this deployment requires special actuators such as hold-down and release mechanisms. Unfortunately, European actuators are too large for this purpose, and American products are subject to export restrictions. To solve this problem, Deployables Cubed – a new space company at ESA BIC Bavaria – is developing pin-puller and release nut actuators to ensure Europe’s independence with regard to these small actuators and the deployable structures that they make possible. The company plans to establish simple, light, and reliable aerospace actuators on the market and offer them to a broad range of customers.
The expectation was greatly exceeded. Development of products with a USP in ease of usability, availability with a COTS approach where products are delivered within 2 weeks. TRL 9 now achieved for the release actuators, with 14 already flying in space and over 100 sold to customers gearing up to launch them to LEO, GEO, the Moon (incl. landing), Mars and deep space (asteroids), as well
as on almost every SpaceX Transporter mission (last on on Transporter 8 in June 2023).
DCUBED – Deployable Cubed GmbH exemplifies the characteristics of a dynamic and forward-thinking German New Space scale-up. Its rapid growth has propelled it from a small start-up with 4 employees to a scale-up/SME employing up to 40 individuals. Its products have gained global recognition and are set to be featured on numerous upcoming SpaceX transporter launches. Furthermore, the versatility of its actuators and deployables hasexceeded initial expectations, allowing for a wider range of applications. This remarkable progress highlights the company‘s impressive development.