International engineering and inspection business IMES has completed a space mission: the development of a sophisticated piece of technology that plays a key role in satellite launch operations.

IMES was awarded a contract to develop and manufacture complex equipment which accurately weighs new satellites during the critical fuelling process.

The mass measurement adaptor, which captures data to high levels of accuracy, was designed and manufactured by a team of experts at the company’s Sheffield operation.

The contract with a global aerospace business, to provide one new system and upgrades to three existing IMES supplied measurement systems, was worth in the region of £350,000.

Calvin Youngman, technical manager, said: “The project highlights the capability of IMES to design and deliver high-end and complicated projects to aerospace and other high-tech industries.

“A bespoke solution was developed capable of displaying and recording the mass and centre of gravity of a satellite during the fuelling process. Our solution is designed with the latest hazardous area technology specifications in mind and is also suitable for rapid transport and deployment at various satellite launch sites around the world.

“While most weighing systems are 1 part to every 3,000, this system is accurate to within 1:16000. The technology incorporated into these latest systems lowers the burden on the clients’ propulsion engineers at the launch site, enabling them to concentrate on the job at hand, while IMES’ monitoring packages take care of all the necessary calculations, logging and reporting functions.

“It is imperative that weight and balance are extremely tightly controlled at all stages of the satellite build process, extremely minor discrepancies can lead to major issues relating to the satellite position and axis.

“Our work on this project has been recognised by the industry and we’re hopeful of securing additional space sector contracts in the future.”

IMES has previously delivered projects to NASA and large satellite businesses based in mainland Europe.

IMES has more than 20 years’ expertise in aerospace and defence projects supplying systems and services to major European and US companies. In addition, IMES provides engineering and integrity management services to the oil & gas, renewables, shipping, nuclear and construction industries. In particular, IMES specialises in lifting and handling equipment through life integrity and support, which is achieved through project management, inspections &surveys, bespoke manufacturing and high-end engineering provision.

The company has operations across the UK with offices in Aberdeen, Bristol, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Rosyth and Sheffield. It also has an office in the United States at St Mary’s, near Jacksonville.


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