Development, manufacturing and flight of a CFRP rocket module

The reduction of the structural weight is of decisive importance in aerospace applications and in particular in rocket structures. As part of the REXUS high-altitude research rocket mission, the Chair of Carbon Composites (LCC) developed and implemented a manufacturing concept for a thermoplastic fiber composite module of a high-altitude research rocket. In the manufacturing concept, the Automated Fiber Placement process is combined with press-formed long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (LFT) structures. The AFP-laminate and its joint to the LFT-structure is realized by in situ consolidation.

The developed module is more than 40% lighter than the conventional aluminum modules and was launched on March 4, 2019 as a structural part of the REXUS 23 rocket at an altitude of 75.42 km.The project was implemented at the LCC by several scientific staff members with the help of various students of the TUM Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering. The project was supported by the DLR Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) in Oberpfaffenhofen, the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) in Bremen, the Bundeswehr University in Neubiberg, the DLR Institute of Structures and Design in Stuttgart and Augsburg and the DLR Space Administration in Bonn. The funding was provided by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

For decades Munich has enjoyed an excellent reputation as a research and technology hub for the aerospace and security sectors. By fostering research, education and hands-on training of the highest international quality and promoting entrepreneurial thinking and global networking at one of Germany’s most tradition-rich sites for high technology, this innovative and competitive advantage will be sustained.  That is what the Ludwig Bölkow Campus (LBC) stands for. The LBC’s consortium partners and the DLR as additional partner initiated this project together with the State of Bavaria with the aim of keeping Bavaria at the forefront of these key future markets. To this end, the Ludwig Bölkow Campus GmbH and the Munich Aerospace e.V. are cooperating closely.

The Leading-Edge Cluster initiative MAI Carbon, which was founded at the suggestion of Carbon Composites e.V. (CCeV), is made up of more than 50 businesses, educational and research institutions as well as organizations from the Munich-Augsburg-Ingolstadt region. The founding partners of MAI Carbon are: Audi, BMW, Premium AEROTEC, Eurocopter, Voith and SGL Group, as well as the IHK Schwaben, the Institute for Carbon Composites (LCC) of the TU Munich and CCeV itself. All partners are active in the technological field of fiber-reinforced composite materials, in particular in the area of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). Emphasis is placed on the automobile and aerospace industries as well as mechanical and plant engineering.

The main objective of MAI Carbon is to bring CFRP to serial production. In doing so, the Munich-Augsburg-Ingolstadt region will develop as a European competence center for CFRP lightweight construction, covering the entire value-added chain of CFRP technology and to help the partners assume a global leading position in the key technology CFRP. This has the potential to create up to 5,000 new jobs in the region.

Carbon Composites Association (Carbon Composites e.V., CCeV), an association of more than 200 enterprises and research facilities, acts as a link between the fields of research and economy in the Southern German-speaking region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). The association is based in Augsburg/Bavaria.

CCeV serves as a network of excellence facilitating the usage of fiber-reinforced composite technologies and implementing initiatives directed at promoting the product category of marketable high-performance fiber-reinforced composites. CCeV focuses its efforts on fiber-reinforced composites (FRC) made of synthetic matrices widely known from a variety of applications, as well as FRCs using ceramic matrices with added heat and wear resistance.

Munich Composites was founded in July 2011 as a spin-off company of the Institute for Carbon Composites at the Technical University of Munich. The company focuses on braiding technology with specially-formulated core systems and resin transfer molding.

In early 2010, an idea was born at Technische Universität München: to design and explore a completely new electric vehicle that is optimally tailored to the future electric mobility. MUTE combines the scientific and research innovation of 20 Institutes at TUM and is designed for seamless integration in the mobility infrastructure. LCC developed an overbraiding technology for automated, rapid creation of crash profiles.