Thales Alenia Space, a European specialist in satellite systems and orbital infrastructures, recently replaced metallic rod connectors with carbon fibre reinforced epoxy composite parts to reduce the weight of a satellite. Lowering the weight allows an increased payload for the same launch weight.

VN Composites, of France, developed a short fibre compression moulding process (CMC®) for the manufacture of these connectors with high dimensional accuracy. The company adapted Advanced Composite Group (ACG)’s MTM®46 prepreg materials for its production method.

MTM46 is a toughened structural epoxy prepreg system offering flexible, cost-effective processing via press, oven/vacuum bag moulding or autoclave. MTM46 offers a Tg capability up to 180°C and meets NASA outgassing requirements.

The VN Composites connectors are now qualified on two Thales Alenia Space telecom satellites.