HiPeR Flexlinks; a matter of flexibility…
Mixing known stuff with new things can deliver great results. The Airbus HiPeR Flexlinks are a nice example of how 50 years of experience in developing space technology and a tremendous success track record, together with a new-to-the-space-domain material resulted in an innovative product for our customers. Stemming from development work for one of the ESA science missions, we took up the challenge to introduce a material to the space industry that is usually, abundantly used in terrestrial applications; Pyrolytic Graphite. Pyro-what? Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard of this inconspicuous material, but as it is used in virtually all smartphones it’s in fact quite close to us all.
Because of the vacuum in space, objects of different temperature in orbit cannot transmit their excess heat through the air like it happens within the atmosphere. This makes thermal control in space a special challenge. Parts of satellites that need to be cooled, or need to stay at certain temperatures to function well – like earth observation cameras – are therefore equipped with thermal hardware to make sure they can perform the way we want them to.
Traditionally, such cameras were fitted with bulky copper connectors to conduct heat away from the sensitive optical sensors inside. Heat is a major source for signal noise! Such a connector would unfortunately also introduce, by default, a mechanical connection between the sensor and other parts of the spacecraft. This mechanical coupling can cause vibrations which is a very unwanted side-effect if you want sharp pictures… So what if you could take that out of the equation? This is exactly what we at Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands have managed to do with our HiPeR Flexlinks.
The thermal straps make full use of the flexible nature and low mass of pyrolytic graphite, without introducing the undesired mechanical coupling. They are so flexible that regular testing equipment is not even capable of measuring it. To put that into perspective; they are as flexible as the plastic bags we put them in.
Having been able to serve multiple projects in recent years, we have made this product available in standardised series, available at competitive prices and short lead times.
We are proud to have such a small but rewarding little piece of enabling hardware in our portfolio and look forward to helping you with your project!