Optimising the ground handling of space payloads

Sensitive satellite components safely transported on heavy duty wheels from Blickle

The client

Airworks Srl, headquartered in Gorizia, is an independent engineering consultancy for advanced systems. Combining design, engineering, testing and prototyping, they develop outstanding technologies for astronomy, space, defence, aerospace and other demanding applications. The company has expertise in the fields of mechanical design engineering, mechatronics, structural engineering, vibration and acoustic engineering, thermal engineering as well as modelling complex physical problems for new technology design. In the European space industry, Airworks has become known as a designer and manufacturer of electromechanical systems for the handling, transport and ground testing of satellites and space payloads.

The challenge

The Italian company was looking for a suitable solution for transporting satellite components. “Ground handling of space payloads on wheels is a seemingly simple operation. However, we have to take several engineering aspects into account,” says Stefano Picinich, CEO and project manager at Airworks. Most movements are performed manually and in a tight space. This requires wheels to have very low starting and rolling resistances in order to minimize the number of operators involved. “In addition, clean room conditions must be maintained and floor specifications must be taken into account. All wheels should be easy to clean and made of approved materials that do not damage the floor surface,” is how Marco Tarnold, Production Manager at Airworks, describes the requirements.

Our solution

Blickle Schwerlasträder

Airworks already had positive experience with Blickle products in other applications, so contact between the two companies was easily established. “Blickle was our preferred supplier,” is how Stefano Picinich succinctly puts it. After thorough analysis, the wheel and castor specialists at Blickle quickly found solutions for two applications. Project number one required the mobilisation of a container developed by Airworks to transport satellite equipment. This spacecraft transportation system called SARah can have a total load up to 20 tonnes. Blickle suggested using the GB 506/80K heavy-duty wheel. This is fitted with the high-quality polyurethane elastomer Blickle Besthane® with a hardness of 92 Shore A. The wheel body consists of a robust grey cast iron.

For the installation of the EnMAP satellite spectrometer assembly, Airworks has developed a special Turn-over Lifting Trolley that operates in ISO5 level clean room. In order to move the Trolley safely, wheels were required that could reliably carry the total load of 2,700 kilograms with brakes and directional locks. The heavy-duty twin wheel swivel castor LSD-SPO 200K from Blickle met these specifications. The particularly heavy nylon wheel centre is extremely impact-resistant and durable. In addition, this swivel castor is characterised by low rolling resistance and wear. The robust welded steel bracket contains a smooth-running axial grooved ball bearing. A welded, secured central bolt provides additional stability. The bracket surface is zinc-plated and emission-free.

The result

The decision to opt for Blickle has definitely paid off as far as Airworks is concerned. „The container can be ergonomically manoeuvred into the desired position and with little manpower,“ says Marco Tarnold from Airworks. He is also very satisfied with the heavy duty twin wheel swivel castors for the Turn-over Lifting Trolley. „We have become much more flexible in the assembly of the satellite components,“ says Stefano Picinich. The Turn-over Lifting Trolley can be moved with little effort, the easy-to-operate parking brake ensures the required safety and the Blickle solution meets the clean room specifications.

Technical information and advantages GB 506/80K and LSD-SPO 200K

  • Optimum rolling and swivel resistance.
  • Low abrasion.
  • Use under clean room conditions.
  • Easy to clean wheels.