Partnering With Airbus

Following my third year at university, I undertook a summer internship at Airbus Defence and Space in Portsmouth, UK. As one of the largest manufacturers of spacecraft in the world, Airbus produces a wide variety of telecommunications, Earth observation, science and navigation satellites across sites in the UK, France, Germany and Spain. My role was based in the Mechanical Design Office where I got a taste of what it was like to design and analyse components being fitted to these spacecraft.

Even having spent just 4 months as an intern working on 3 or 4 platforms, it made me realise how complex the design and qualification process for spacecraft could get. Typical development times could reach a decade or more, consisting of multiple design iterations, a lengthy manufacturing & assembly process and a substantial test programme. That got me thinking about how much more we could develop LunaDome and what a great opportunity I had to get advice from some of the experts who had been designing spacecraft for decades.

Considering LunaDome was going to be the subject of my Final Year University Project, gaining sponsorship would be a great way to secure extra support and raise some of the funds needed to make Elliot’s and my dream a reality. Having pitched the idea to various managers and directors, the sponsorship proposal was eventually escalated to the Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space UK, Colin Paynter.

In preparation for our most important meeting to date, Elliot and I set out to prepare our pitch, producing a detailed project plan, cost projections and sponsorship benefits. When the big day came, we set up our presentation in a room filled with all of the heads of department, the Portsmouth site lead and of course, Colin. In the next 15 minutes we took them through our story, described our 12 month plan and proposed three different investment options. The response from the room was great and we had some interesting questions which resulted in Airbus agreeing to give us a budget of £60,000 for engineering support through design reviews, a manufacturing budget and access to testing facilities once the hardware had been produced.

With the help of some very experienced engineers, we have completely re-designed LunaDome and we’re confident we will be able to produce flight-ready hardware by the end of 2019 – thank you Airbus!

By Sam Brass

LunaDome Project Manager