S7 R&D Center

A Technology & Research Company,
a part of S7 AirSpace Corporation

Designing a light launch vehicle to thereafter use the concept in serial production of a medium-lift rocket with its reusable first stage, fired by the "Sea Launch" floating platform.

S7 R&D Center

A Technology & Research Company,
a part of S7 AirSpace Corporation

Designing a light launch vehicle to thereafter use the concept
in serial production of a medium-lift rocket with its reusable first stage,
fired by the "Sea Launch" floating platform.
About us
The Company specialty is modern technology and industrial systems design for aluminum and titanium alloys aerospace components production. The Company developed a range of crucial technologies for launch vehicle manufacturing, and made sure they are industry applicable.

The Company proceeded to designing a two-stage launch vehicle with a liquid-fueled rocket engine and a reusable first stage.

This is an ongoing project since 2019.

S7 R&D Center has competence and relevant infrastructure in:

  • robotic friction stir welding; arc and plasma-arc welding;
  • robotic additive technology of large-size high-load aluminum alloy parts manufacturing;
  • launch vehicle structure design strength and resistance simulation and computation with subsequent optimization;
  • simulation of thermodynamic processes in additive cultivation;
  • materials engineering research (at in-house lab equipped with metallographic analysis tools to acquire target strength properties of alloys and parts).
The Company design, compose and assemble industrial robotic cells, write codes to support numerical calculations and multiaxial robotic systems control. These are all in-house capabilities. The Company design and manufacture industry prototypes for friction stir welding.

The corporate mission is a serial production of light and medium-lift launch vehicles, based on efficient state-of-the-art structure fabrication methods.
Our R&D

S7 Rocket Factory – Building Rockets

The Company proceeded to the practical stage of the light launch vehicle project, aiming at subsequent serial production of a medium-lift rocket with its reusable first stage, fired by the "Sea Launch" floating platform.

The first project stage envisages manufacturing of a light launch vehicle at its own facilities equipped with a state-of-the-art assembly line, to be up and running by 2021 year end. The Company design, engineer and manufacture all the launch vehicle components but the engines, in-house. The Company keep perfecting available technologies, designing proprietary industrial equipment with its individual constituents already tested in operation as pilot projects.

A launch vehicle however is a lot more than its structure, be it its shells, floor pans, frames and stringers, inner tank parts, head fairings etc. It is also about all prior and complex strength and stability computations, simulation and design optimization. Ballistics, aerodynamics, and heat transfer processes computation along with control system architecture design and construction - with all multitude of return coupling options and intellectual actuation, need to be considered, too. The Company aim at implementing all the above with perfection, on par with the world leading private aerospace manufacturers.

The Company will subsequently use all the accumulated technological, design and simulation practices in serial production of medium-lift launch vehicles with its reusable first stage to be fired by the "Sea Launch" floating platform. The medium-lift rocket will be assembled by an S7 Group production facility where infrastructure projects now undergo their study, preparation and tests.

The Company expect to launch its light rockets with liquid-propellant engines in current serial production. The next goal then is to use the in-house engines currently worked on, in the following applications:
  • the first stage of the light rocket;
  • the second stage of the medium-lift rocket; and
  • as a packaged option - for the first stage of the medium-lift rocket.

The Company work fast and quite efficiently – at least as evident and judged by products already available.

The Company is now hiring gifted engineers in the growing team. If you are proactively up to aerospace rocket assembly whilst leaving categorized paradigms and overwhelming corporate routine behind – feel free to join in. Motivated and qualified industry experts are the key to any project success. This is something the Company perfectly realize.

Additive Technology

The Company employ so-called wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) method. This technology provides for printing proximity matching large-scale billets, making any controlled environment chamber redundant in the process. Continuing mass production rate of 20 Kg/H may be achieved by employing power sources with cold metal transfer (CMT) technology.

An obvious advantage of the WAAM method over other available additive production technology is, the printing raw materials are all readily available. Any material susceptible to welding is good for cultivation, as the process employs welding wire rather than regular powder. Throughout several years of experimenting the Company have successfully tried and tested the following raw materials:
• Low carbon low-alloy steels;
• High temperature Ni-Cr alloys;
• Aluminum Al-Mg and Al-Mg-Mn alloys;
• Aluminum Al-Si alloys;
• Aluminum Al-Mg-Sc-Zr alloys.

To avoid the size-related constraint of cultivated parts, the Company use industrial robotic systems. Confined by a reasonably limited facility area, it now cultivate light rocket first stage parts with up to 2 meters in diameter. Besides, the architecture of the robotic systems provides for their rapid config change as a function of ever-varying needs.

To secure the best productivity of this technology, it takes to eliminate all the chronic defects whilst securing a continuing cultivation process. To achieve this, an intellectual process monitoring and control system has been designed. The system permanently collects and synchronizes a multitude of data (technological power and input mass data, geometry of the cultivated billet etc.). The system then computes a corrective action on the basis of such data if so required. In other words, the fully automated cultivation process occurs within the system.

The developed technologies and systems are an inherent part of the in-house aerospace equipment production process. Their potential applications however go far beyond making rockets alone. A vast choice of raw materials, equipment flexibility, and literally no limitations in shapes of parts to be cultivated, allow to virtually cultivate whatever one needs.

Additive Technology

The Company employ so-called wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) method. This technology provides for printing proximity matching large-scale billets, making any controlled environment chamber redundant in the process. Continuing mass production rate of 20 Kg/H may be achieved by employing power sources with cold metal transfer (CMT) technology.

An obvious advantage of the WAAM method over other available additive production technology is, the printing raw materials are all readily available. Any material susceptible to welding is good for cultivation, as the process employs welding wire rather than regular powder. Throughout several years of experimenting the Company have successfully tried and tested the following raw materials:
• Low carbon low-alloy steels;
• High temperature Ni-Cr alloys;
• Aluminum Al-Mg and Al-Mg-Mn alloys;
• Aluminum Al-Si alloys;
• Aluminum Al-Mg-Sc-Zr alloys.

To avoid the size-related constraint of cultivated parts, the Company use industrial robotic systems. Confined by a reasonably limited facility area, it now cultivate light rocket first stage parts with up to 2 meters in diameter. Besides, the architecture of the robotic systems provides for their rapid config change as a function of ever-varying needs.

To secure the best productivity of this technology, it takes to eliminate all the chronic defects whilst securing a continuing cultivation process. To achieve this, an intellectual process monitoring and control system has been designed. The system permanently collects and synchronizes a multitude of data (technological power and input mass data, geometry of the cultivated billet etc.). The system then computes a corrective action on the basis of such data if so required. In other words, the fully automated cultivation process occurs within the system.

The developed technologies and systems are an inherent part of the in-house aerospace equipment production process. Their potential applications however go far beyond making rockets alone. A vast choice of raw materials, equipment flexibility, and literally no limitations in shapes of parts to be cultivated, allow to virtually cultivate whatever one needs.

Friction Stir Welding

In the project of the in-house launch vehicle – which is not dissimilar to the majority of rockets now in use by the world industry, an aluminum alloy is the key design material for the structure fuel tanks. The bottleneck of an aluminum structure is a welding joint though. To improve its quality, and to enhance the technological scope (i.e., in а stringer-frame type skin support structure), the Company develop and employ a friction stir welding (FSW) method. Compared to argon-arc welding, the FSW allows to reduce thermal distorting and strains in the weld seam by an order.

The strength of an FSW-joint for a wrought 1580 Al-Mg-Sc-Zr alloy chosen for fuel tank skin manufacture, is practically identical to the strength of the core material. Thus the entire need to use strengthened welding seams in the fuel tanks structure, is eliminated.

The FSW method is the best for overlap welding of thin aluminum stringers on the fuel tank skin.

The FSW technique is subject to 100% automation.

S7 R&D Center investigate and develop new friction stir welding (FSW) techniques, tools and modes.

To master technological solutions the Company employ a sophisticated tool, i.e., a KUKA customized industrial robot. The robot is equipped with a customized high-torque spindle, six-axis welding force sensor, and FSW-specific software.

A robotic FSW allows for arriving at virtually any three-dimensional configuration of the welding seam, while using a versatile and flexible system adjustable to various parts and welding patterns.

To migrate to launch vehicle manufacturing (both test vehicles and industry-scale production) the Company currently design several industry-type FSW machines for different welding joints, including a large building berth to weld O-shaped sections and hold-down attachment struts together - to build the integral fuel tank. The Company will assemble all these units in-house.

Design, Simulation and Computation

As applied to launch vehicle, the Company objectives are:
  • defining basic parameters and layout;
  • ballistics tasks (identifying the best three-dimensional trajectory and external loads definition);
  • aerodynamics tasks (identifying aerodynamic ratios and thermal loads);
  • key body parts design and optimization on the basis of employed manufacturing technology;
  • strength and stability computation (elastic body strained-stressed condition in space, accounting for peculiarities of thermal influence);
  • control system tasks (defining limitations and control process requirements, autonomous mission and disturbances response algorithms, design of architecture and the system "per se", error analysis).

All the above tasks are interrelated, their resolutions iterate. The Company write its proprietary software for both tasks resolution and task bonding. Apart from in-house software, in computation and simulation applications the Company employ SolidWorks Simulation, ANSYS, MATLAB and Simulink.

Aside from works directly related to launch vehicle, the Company design in-house tracking systems based on laser scanning devices. Employment of these systems in both additive cultivation and/or mechanical processing, allows for product verification against its CAD model right within the process, so that an applicable tool control program could be modified to achieve the best output.

Another stand-alone and sizeable task is additive cultivation simulation – to resolve the thermal mode issue and confront distortions in the cultivation process. When cultivating match-plate patterns and should a multi-axis robotic system path trajectory plotting be required, such trajectories are computed using algorithms also developed in-house by the Company experts.

Design, Simulation and Computation

As applied to launch vehicle, the Company objectives are:
  • defining basic parameters and layout;
  • ballistics tasks (identifying the best three-dimensional trajectory and external loads definition);
  • aerodynamics tasks (identifying aerodynamic ratios and thermal loads);
  • key body parts design and optimization on the basis of employed manufacturing technology;
  • strength and stability computation (elastic body strained-stressed condition in space, accounting for peculiarities of thermal influence);
  • control system tasks (defining limitations and control process requirements, autonomous mission and disturbances response algorithms, design of architecture and the system "per se", error analysis).

All the above tasks are interrelated, their resolutions iterate. The Company write its proprietary software for both tasks resolution and task bonding. Apart from in-house software, in computation and simulation applications the Company employ SolidWorks Simulation, ANSYS, MATLAB and Simulink.

Aside from works directly related to launch vehicle, the Company design in-house tracking systems based on laser scanning devices. Employment of these systems in both additive cultivation and/or mechanical processing, allows for product verification against its CAD model right within the process, so that an applicable tool control program could be modified to achieve the best output.

Another stand-alone and sizeable task is additive cultivation simulation – to resolve the thermal mode issue and confront distortions in the cultivation process. When cultivating match-plate patterns and should a multi-axis robotic system path trajectory plotting be required, such trajectories are computed using algorithms also developed in-house by the Company experts.

Milling technology

Milling of Al-alloy aerospace parts with complex spatial shape parts. We do laser scanning of objects for machining to obtain their digital model. This model allows us to process blanks of any shape.

The Center owns a robotic milling cell based on a high-accuracy KUKA KR 120 R2700 extra HA industrial robot with KUKA KP2-HV500 2-axis positioner and HSD spindle.

The Center also mill large-sized products from aluminum alloys on a portal milling machine with a working area of 4.5x2 m.

Carbide blanks are machined on the DMG MORI DMC 635 V ecoline vertical machining center.

Material research laboratory

The laboratory is designed and fully equipped to research and analyze the structure and properties of produced parts, samples and coatings.

The laboratory boasts equipment sets for heat treatment, precision preparation, grinding, polishing and chemical etching of samples of various metals and alloys. Along with other equipment, The Center has optical microscopes Leica DMi8 and Leica DM750M (Germany) with magnifications from 12.5x to 1000x, and special software with ability to obtain high-resolution images for future analysis. Available types of equipment allow to identify and characterize possible defects (pores, cracks, inclusions, etc.) as well as structural features of a material (phase separation, grain structure, etc.).

The laboratory is also equipped for researching mechanical properties of materials, i.e., a multi-purpose hardness tester KB 50SR (Germany) with measuring range from 0.01 to 30 kgF (Vickers), and a multi-purpose MTS testing machine (USA) with a force up to 50 kN, providing for breaking, compression and bending tests.

The laboratory employs highly qualified engineers specializing in welding technologies and material science.

Material research laboratory

The laboratory is designed and fully equipped to research and analyze the structure and properties of produced parts, samples and coatings.

The laboratory boasts equipment sets for heat treatment, precision preparation, grinding, polishing and chemical etching of samples of various metals and alloys. Along with other equipment, The Center has optical microscopes Leica DMi8 and Leica DM750M (Germany) with magnifications from 12.5x to 1000x, and special software with ability to obtain high-resolution images for future analysis. Available types of equipment allow to identify and characterize possible defects (pores, cracks, inclusions, etc.) as well as structural features of a material (phase separation, grain structure, etc.).

The laboratory is also equipped for researching mechanical properties of materials, i.e., a multi-purpose hardness tester KB 50SR (Germany) with measuring range from 0.01 to 30 kgF (Vickers), and a multi-purpose MTS testing machine (USA) with a force up to 50 kN, providing for breaking, compression and bending tests.

The laboratory employs highly qualified engineers specializing in welding technologies and material science.

Some research results (click to expand):
Properties of products grown from 1575 aluminum alloy wire
The samples in the shape of a series of walls with a width of 5-6 mm and a height of 20-25 mm, were made with a robotic electric- arc additive technology from aluminum-scandium alloy 1575 wire (1.2 mm diameter, manufacturer: «OZA» JSC). The microstructure of the obtained samples is characterized by its layered nature, common for this type of growth methodology. Little porosity with pore sizes from 20 to 50 microns and individual pores with a diameter of up to 100 microns, is discovered. Hardness (Vickers with a load of 2 kg) measured over the entire height of the sample's cross section, is characterized by relative uniformity with an average value of 90.

For mechanical testing, the total of 32 3-mm thick samples (ASTM E8 / E8M) was milled. A part of samples was heat-treated. The diagram shows the summary of the samples' mechanical properties.
Express research of mechanical properties of aluminum alloy 1580 FSW
A series of experiments was performed at alloy 1580M sheet with 6 mm thickness. In experiments high-speed friction stir welding (with a stationary shoulder) was used.

Mechanical properties were determined on the MTS Criterion electromechanical testing machine.

The following mechanical properties of FSW at the samples of 1580M sheets (across the rolled product) were obtained:

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S7 Space, Gorki Leninskiye subdivision

5, Vostochnaya St. (Tekhnopark Promzona), Gorki Leninskiye Settl., Leninskiy District, Moscow Oblast, Russia, 142712


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S7 R&D Center, 2019–2022