Leeds City Region engineering innovation enables Rosetta satellite landing


On 12 November 2014 the Rosetta spacecraft successfully landed on Comet 67P, thanks to a gearing system engineered and built at Reliance Precision Ltd., based in Leeds City Region.

A prime example of the unparalleled quality of the manufacturing sector in the region, the gearing system enabled the satellite to disembark from its mothership on 06 August, as well as keeping the 15 metre solar panels rotating towards the sun, to ensure the spacecraft maintained power, throughout the duration of its 10 year flight. The quality and precision of this groundbreaking gearing system, developed at Reliance Precision Ltd., ensured the spacecraft was able to power itself during its journey through space, especially during extensive periods when it only received 4% of the sunlight experienced on Earth.

Andrew Wright, managing director at Reliance Precision Ltd. said: “We are delighted that Rosetta has successfully landed and that our gearing system has played a major role in this world first. There is something very satisfying about knowing our components are not only performing perfectly after 10 years, but are doing so in deep space at a distance of around 500 million miles from our works here in Huddersfield.

“At Reliance, we pride ourselves on designing and delivering bespoke engineering solutions for businesses across a range of sectors, from aerospace to healthcare, and our extensive experience ensures we deliver an innovative solution and product which is able to support pioneering ideas.”

Since Reliance first manufactured the Rosetta gears in 1999 the company has continued to support the space industry, supplying custom-built gears for a variety of satellite applications. Technical Director, Ian Laidler, who has recently chaired the UK’s Space Mechanisms Working Group explains: “We have received a great deal of support from the UK Space Agency and Innovate UK for our research and development programmes for space and we are working actively as part of a strong, vibrant UK satellite industry.”

Roger Marsh, chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, commented on what the success means for the region: “Leeds City Region is the UK’s biggest manufacturing centre with a long, proud history of exporting engineering innovation around the globe. The Rosetta landing – made possible through engineering expertise pioneered by Reliance Precision in Huddersfield - is another example of how companies in our region are producing high-value, forward-thinking engineering designs that are changing the world – and in this case, the galaxy!”

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