How to make a scale model of a satellite: the PRISMA case

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Coesum handles the production of scale models

Objective of the customer: The customer’s request was to create scale models to be exhibited at fairs, representative events or to give to special guests. The need was to make a prototype and then a small series of highly aesthetic models that faithfully simulated the PRISMA satellite of the Italian Space Agency. The launch took place on 22 March 2019 at 02.50 on board the Italian carrier VEGA, with the aim of observing the Earth using hyperspectral technology.

Solution proposed by Coesum: for the production of aesthetic prototypes the recommended solution was stereolithography to reproduce the central body; this master was used for the faithful reproduction of the other models. Subsequent finishing work was carried out on the prototype in order to make the model similar to the satellite.

Results: An excellent result with attention to the smallest details, from the co-design phases for the resizing of the original model files, to the production of the prototypes, to the aesthetic finishes up to the transparent PMMA base designed for housing the prototype and the screen printing of the partner logo.

PRISMA, acronym of Hyper-Spectral Precursor of the Application Mission, is a satellite demonstrator of the Italian Space Agency and represents an important goal at a scientific and industrial level. The satellite was built by a temporary grouping of companies; at the helm, OHB Italia, head of the mission, and Leonardo, who created the hyperspectral electro-optical instrumentation, as well as on-board equipment. The launch was carried out with the VEGA carrier produced by AVIO. The satellite will make a fundamental contribution to monitoring pollution and environmental changes; in fact PRISMA is also able to analyze the chemical composition of what it observes, from the level of pollution of the sea to the materials of the roof of a house up to the state of health of a forest. The launch took place on March 22, 2019 at 2.50am Italian time from the European Kourou space base in French Guyana. The satellite has now completed the various verification phases and begins its operational life.

Coesum contributed to the realization of scale models to present PRISMA first of all at the fair (OHB Italia actually exhibited it for the first time at the International Exhibition of Aeronautics and Space at Le Bourget in France last June) and use the subsequent mockups on other occasions. The first step was to resize the files from the 1: 1 to 1:18 format to create a model of about 18-20 cm height; all respecting the OHB specifications on the proportions and details to make visible on the scaled model. We worked on the files to meet the customer’s requests and optimize the files for 3D printing, inserting ribs where necessary to make the model more stable and designing the anchoring system to the base to apply the logos of the partners in silk-screen printing. In this first phase we worked in co-design with the customer to optimize the digital model and also to share some tests on how to make detailed parts such as the solar panel area.

In the second step, after defining the three-dimensional file, we created a first stereolithography prototype kit consisting of about 15 pieces.

This was used as a master for the construction of silicone molds necessary for the production of 20 complete models. Following the silicone mold replicas, the parts were sanded and grouted to prepare the surfaces for metallization and painting.

It was an honor to participate in this articulated and stimulating project! Thank OHB Italia Spa

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