Stage Separation | Payload Separation | Fairing Separation

Successful stage, payload & fairing separation are critical to any aerospace and defense mission. Whether it is jettisoning components no longer needed, uncovering equipment or deploying payloads, the success of a mission is dependent upon the precise timing of the separation along with minimal changes of attitude and rotational rates to the proceeding vehicle. For over half a century we have successfully and reliably separated:

  • Missiles
    • Fin restraint release
    • Skin severance systems
    • Actuate dome covers, wings or like structures
  • Launch vehicles
  • Payloads
  • Satellites

When designing separation systems, we consider the following factors:

  • Clearance between the separating bodies
  • Weight/mass budget restrictions
  • Shock transmission to the payload or ongoing vehicle
  • Damage/contamination by debris due to separation mechanisms
  • Influences of force at the moment of separation on the separating body
  • Environmental elements of the separation (heat, vacuum, radiation etc.)

Why use pyrotechnic devices for separation? For micro-second accuracy when reliability, precision and repeatability are required, pyro is necessary.  Whether utilizing a launch vehicle or missile application energetic systems are widely used and provide high energy to weight performance.

Working on a project needing stage separation?

Precision engineered, tailor made to your specifications.

  • With a multi-stage carrier rocket, there are two basic approaches to stage separation.

    1. Utilizing a continuous structure to carry the payloads, a device is added to cut the structure cleanly on command (a common use of this technique is canopy transfer removal on military jets).
    2. Using separate structures which are attached by designated mating devices until separation is initiated.

    These approaches can be applied to either a conical shaped rocket or the cylindrical sections.

    Regardless of the approach, the staging process commences when the burn out of the ongoing stage is detected and continues with the ignition of the next along with the separation of the spent stage. The latter two processes (ignition of the next stage and separation of the spent stage) may occur concurrently or with a time differential. These events may occur in any order, all dependent upon the vehicle configuration, mission requirements and whether they are programmed before lift off or real time during flight monitoring.

    We have designed many successful separations using either method. The choice of one particular approach over the other will depend upon the mission, the vehicle and the engineers.

  • Stage and payload fairing separation systems are used to separate:

    • Missile warhead release
    • Satellites
    • Space-vehicle release
    • Multi-stage rockets
  • Our stage severance systems have been used in multiple missile platforms, launch and space vehicles along with satellites including Delta IV, CCTS, SM, SF, X-1A and ATACMS