The Future of Composites: Empowering Successful Space Missions.

March 8, 2023

Rocket launches and space missions are natural outgrowths of thousands of years of experimentation and research. They are complex and very expensive, but we keep having them, with hundreds of satellites being launched annually. According to GeospatialWorld, the year 2022 has so far witnessed the maximum number of orbital and suborbital launches, amounting to 155 launches in total.

With how complex and expensive this process is, there are companies developing substitute materials for easier, more cost-effective rocket and satellite launches. How are these companies making rocket science out of nearly anything, and what process are they using to achieve their successes?

On this episode of the Vaya Space Podcast, the host, Michelle Dawn Mooney, brought on Kevin Lowdermilk, the CEO of Vaya Space; Hayley Nedbalski, Aeronautical Engineer III, Composites at Vaya Space; Rouven Weg, Sales Manager for Roth Composites Machinery; and Joe Jansen, National Sales Manager for Roth Composite Machinery of North America to talk about satellite launches, new build materials, the partnership between Vaya and Roth and how they have been empowering space missions.

“Vaya is primarily a satellite launch company. We leverage hybrid engine technology to safely, reliably, and cost-effectively put data satellites into precision orbits,” Kevin said.

“Roth is a family-owned company in Europe serving various businesses ranging from plastic technology, environmental solutions for businesses to customers and business to business sectors, and the manufacturing of different machinery equipment. We are one of the first companies in Europe to build dedicated equipment for filament winding,” Rouven answered.

“Composites are two-part material systems that consist of both fiber and a matrix or resin. They are combined in a certain ratio to form what we call laminate. They have an excellent strength-to-weight ratio compared to metals of the same thickness, which makes them ideal for our spacecraft systems,” Hayley added.

Mooney, Lowdermilk, Nedbalski, Weg, and Jansen also discussed:

  • What Roth is doing for Vaya Space
  • How Roth and Vaya’s partnership work and how it sets Vaya apart from other companies out there
  • The future of composites

“How does Vaya use composites?” Mooney asked. “Composites are used for large and small space structures. They can include lock tanks, gaskets, baskets, etc. A lot of our structures are going to be made from various manufacturing techniques, which include resin infusion, vacuum inflation, etc.,” Nedbalski responded.

What is Roth doing for Vaya Space? Mooney threw the question out to the guests to give a general idea.

Joe answered by saying, “Roth and Vaya came together as a need or requirement for filament winding equipment that we happily provided them.”

“We are always looking for performance, reliability, and cost advantages in building rockets, and Roth brings all those things to the table for us. The weight savings and improved strength they provide are really crucial and lead to much more payload, which is everything in our business,” Kevin added. “Space launch is expensive today, and this kind of relationship put us in a good place for a long time to continue to bring costs down and innovate. We are thrilled with the relationship.”

Kevin Lowdermilk is that Interim CEO of Vaya Space. He was the CFO of Strategic Partners, a company that provides operational and financial leadership to mid-market companies in multiple industries.

Hayley Nedbalski has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering with a concentration in Astronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She has worked in the composite design and manufacturing industry for over five years, designing and building composite parts such as hydrofoils, wing tips, and marine hulls, decks, and small parts.

Rouven Weg is the full-time sales manager for Roth Composites Machinery. He has a Master’s of Science from the Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen and a Bachelor’s of Engineering from the PFH Private Hochschule Göttingen.

Joe Jansen is the National Sales Manager of Roth Composite Machinery. He is well-respected throughout the composite industry and has a wealth of industry knowledge and experience. Jansen is responsible for providing and assisting customers with training on the operation, programming, repair, and maintenance of Roth’s winding machines. He is the man to go to about the correct manufacturing methods for Roth’s products, as well as recommendations for further equipment, materials, and suppliers.

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