One of the most critical bearing applications in the aerospace industry is where machinery requires motion control on manned space flight missions and it’s currently experiencing significant investment and growth. Despite all the global challenges and uncertainties, the UK and European space sector is thriving, a good example of which is the Oxford Space Cluster. This facility is acknowledged as the UK’s leading space technology gateway with a global reputation for innovation, from space science research to ground based commercial solutions. Today, the Harwell Space Cluster forms an integral part of the UK’s space sector having grown into a dynamic and enterprising ecosystem comprising of over 100 organisations, employing 1400 people and contributing £5.7bn to UK GDP.

Located in close proximity to the Harwell site is Oxfordshire based precision bearing specialist CARTER MANUFACTURING who are the European Master distributor for the renowned USA based Napoleon Bearings. With over 25 years of service and excellence in the aerospace manufacturing industry, Napoleon offers customers the crucial benefit of ‘Space Heritage’ a status that is critical to being considered a supplier to the space industry sector. This is underlined by the fact that Napoleon has supported both NASA missions in the USA and also projects initiated by the European ESA by supplying components for life-critical space applications. 

Thanks to its representation of Napoleon Bearings, who are regarded as one of the manufacturers of choice for the most critical bearing applications, enables Carter to pass on unrivalled expertise gained from manned USA space flight missions, to similar projects for their UK and European customers. As a result, from low earth orbit to Mars exploration and beyond, outer space approved bearings, along with other key components, are helping customers to explore and conquer new frontiers with confidence.

In addition to supplying the highest specification bearings to UK and European customers,   Carter have also supplied components such as Cam Followers for the Mars Rover project, Rod Ends and aerospace bearing tools for the Thales satellite project along with bearings for deployable antennas for other space exploration projects.

Other specific aerospace applications in which Carter has supplied products includes; launch vehicle satellites, LOX turbo pumps and circulators, liquid methane pumps, reaction wheels, solar array gear box mechanisms, door latches and other space components. 

For Worldwide customer peace of mind, Carter is accredited to ISO9001, incorporating the requirements of AS9120 with flow down from AS9100, while bearings can include AS9102 Aerospace First Article Inspection. This includes reports for traceability of all raw materials and special processes along with full dimensional analysis. In addition to providing customers with the confidence of our levels of accreditation Carter also offer extensive knowledge of the quality and testing requirements which are required to validate a new bearing design or other components.

Carter’s engineers utilise SolidWorks to design custom bearings tailored to each mission, whilst their proprietary bearing application software determines theoretical bearing performance. To complete the package, other software allows us to provide detailed reports to better inform our customers and validate critical design decisions. We can also provide further technical assistance such as FEA analysis and this level of support, combined with our unique understanding of how to interpret this data, optimises mechanical performance.