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Airbus launches new satellite manufacturing facility

Airbus launches new satellite manufacturing facility

Stephen Kuper

Airbus Defence and Space has officially opened the Integrated Technology Centre (ITC), Europe’s most state-of-the-art satellite integration and space technology centre.

The German-based ITC, which triples the area of clean room space to 4,200 square metres, is dedicated to building satellites, probes, space instruments and experimental technologies. The centre took only two years to build at a total cost of about €45 million.

With dimensions of 70 x 60 metres and a ceiling height of up to 18.50 metres, the building was designed to expand the current satellite integration hall. The new 'dual' complex enables projects to be executed more efficiently and economically and, thanks to cutting-edge technology and its new size, also offers new possibilities for developing future space projects, such as large space telescopes.

Four seismic blocks, each weighing 150 tonnes, ‘decouple’ special integration tables from the building and ensure a completely vibration-free environment for the installation of optical instruments.

A computer-controlled fan and filter matrix on the south side of the clean room generates air-flow profiles that can be adjusted to the occupancy of the room. This concept allows different clean room classes to be created in a single hall with no disruptive partitions or curtains.

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Nicolas Chamussy, head of Airbus Space Systems, said, "Space flight has undergone huge positive development over the past few years. In addition to scientific missions to explore our solar system and investigate fundamental physical laws, we as a space company are meeting a swiftly increasing demand for high-performance, ultra-reliable Earth observation, meteorological and navigation satellites."

In the adjacent check-out rooms, technicians can conduct a broad array of electrical function tests without having to enter the clean room area. All computer systems are housed in their own air-conditioned, noise-insulated racks.

 

The two wings of the ITC provide a further 1,100 square metres of integration and laboratory space for component manufacturing and technical areas. The first floor of the building’s west wing houses a conference zone and a multi-functional showroom and information space, whose large panoramic windows provide a unique view of the flight hardware production process.

"Thanks to the new satellite hub, production at Airbus’s Friedrichshafen site is optimally positioned in terms of both quality and quantity compared with our competitors," Chamussy added. 

Four Sentinel satellites for the European environment and security program ‘Copernicus’, the joint European-Japanese EarthCARE Earth observation satellites and two 12.30-metre-long planar radar antennas are the first projects to move into the new centre. The integration work for JUICE, a mission to the icy moons of Jupiter (set to launch in 2022), is also expected to start within the next six months.

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2018 it generated revenues of €64 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. 

Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies, in helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

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