On 28 June 2017, the first launch vehicle with a satellite protected by a payload fairing manufactured by the out-of-autoclave process went up into space on Ariane flight VA238. This revolutionary production process is shortening the manufacturing time by around 50% and reducing the costs proportionally by 40%. With this technological step forward, RUAG Space is further extending its leadership in the manufacture of carbon-fibre structures for the global aerospace industry. The massive improvements are possible because the newly developed oven-curing of carbon fibre/resin material no longer needs to be done under a high vacuum and thus dispenses with the need for an autoclave. Instead, a standard industrial oven can be used.
This kind of oven is not only significantly cheaper to buy and operate; it can also be larger. It makes it possible to manufacture complete half-shells for payload fairings all in one piece. The first production line using the new process went into operation in Emmen in 2016, manufacturing fairings for the European Ariane 5 and 6 and Vega launch vehicles. A second line at the new production site in Decatur, Alabama, will be manufacturing structures for US customers.