Munich space technology developer HPS: Growth with “space insulation jackets” for satellites

Dec 19, 2012
The High Performance Space Structure Systems GmbH (HPS), a Munich-based space technology development company, is all set to expand vigorously in the next few years. “We are planning to increase the number of employees from 30 to 50”, said the HPS Managing Director and Space Engineer, Dr. Ernst K. Pfeiffer.

It is cold in outer space – and hot. As an example of such fluctuations, satellites transmitting their television programmes from a distance of 36,000 kilometres above the Earth are exposed to temperatures of plus 120 degrees on the side facing the sun, while on other side they have to withstand minus 170 degrees. This difference is balanced by a tailor-made thermal protection “padded jacket” suitable for use in space.

Some one thousand commercial satellites alone, worth over three hundred billion euros, cater for telephone, TV and data transmissions worldwide. And it is the small Munich space technology company HPS that makes sure they are properly clad and so stay fully functional. Their success formula: after spending five years working on the preparatory phase, the Research and Development Centre in Germany has qualified and developed its subsidiary in Porto into a production location. The design patterns, stitching methods and retaining fixtures are developed primarily in Bavaria by experienced personnel.

The first big made-to-measure order is now on its way to the customer: during the past few weeks the final customised thermal protection suits were fitted for the three-meter high Max Planck space telescope eROSITA. As of 2014, this instrument will for the first time map the whole of the sky on board the “Spectrum-X-Gamma“ satellite with a view to detecting “dark matter”.

“eROSITA is the current high-spot in our successful development and production. In October 2012, we have just started a custom-made suit for a flight to Mars and hope to land four other contracts in the next 12 months. We also see potential in innumerable smaller contracts for satellite subcontractors. The products we offer show what great opportunities are available in Europe for cross-border enterprises and especially in the high-tech sector of space travel. The twelve jobs currently existing in crisis-stricken Portugal are secure, and a further five to ten will be added shortly“, Dr. Pfeiffer commented. Besides the European Space Agency ESA (Paris), customers also include companies like the OHB subsidiary Kayser-Threde (Munich), ThalesAleniaSpace Italia (Turin) and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Garching).

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Source: Invest in Bavaria