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Rely upon nature to design the LOx tanks of Zephyr

November 7, 2022

The Latitude engineering team partnered with French company Halcyon to design the LOx (Liquid Oxygen) tanks of Zephyr, relying upon their experience in aluminium honeycomb structures.

Halcyon is a French manufacturer based in Rennes designing and manufacturing aluminium honeycomb sandwich structures with applications in the automobile, naval, rail and space industries. The Breton company has developed an expertise in shaping these kinds of structures complexing aluminium sheets with aluminium honeycomb core, combining high mechanical performance characteristics of aluminium and ultra ligthweighting. The company created in 2015 already has significant references as they have worked with Stellantis, Renault and RATP, as well as CNES and ArianeGroup on space-related projects.

A smart solution for Zephyr's LOx tanks

The solution they offer was pertinent when designing Zephyr LOx tanks, which we have co-developed with their team. We chose their solution as aluminium has proven records of compatibility with LOx and the associated extremely low temperatures, among other features. Halcyon was indeed able to put together an offer based on their technology, despite the significant constraints the tanks undergo during the flight. The honeycomb structure they developed indeed allows the launcher tanks to fulfill 2 functions: store the LOx needed for propulsion and ensure structural integrity of the launcher, while reducing the weight on these parts. “These sandwich structures show great mechanical properties offering a very high rigidity in particular here bending and twist, thus meeting the specifications we were provided by Latitude engineering team” points out Gwenaël Picaut, CEO and Founder of Halcyon.

Thus, the tanks are made from several sandwich parts which are assembled all together by Friction Stir Welding (FSW) for a perfect seal. FSW is a solid-state joining process using a non-consumable tool to join facing workpieces, which results in no extra-weight and allows a simplified verification process.

Halcyon selected byFrance 2030 Program

It is noteworthy that Halcyon has been selected in the French Public Investment Program "France 2030" in the Micro-launchers category, along with Latitude. These funds will provide Halcyon substantial support to industrialize its production line and the digital control chain adapted to a growing demand on the New Space market.