Last week we had the opportunity to visit the clean rooms and the new integration room of Thales Alenia Space Spain, located in the Madrid Technology Park, in Tres Cantos.
A unique place in Spain where systems and components are put to the test that will later be taken into space by NASA, ESA, Axiom Space, Roscosmos, Uksa, Cnes and many other clients in the field of space exploration, observation meteorological, environmental monitoring and telecommunications operation.
ISO class 8 (or class 100,000), necessary for the manufacture of electronic equipment and systems embedded in satellites.
The clean rooms or white are rooms designed and equipped to be able to operate in very low pollution conditions and in stable conditions of temperature, pressure and humidity. To achieve this, they have strict control measures for environmental parameters (such as humidity, temperature, pressure or particles in the air) as well as access and clothing restrictions. To enter the room, therefore, you must wear appropriate clothing (hat, gown, shoes) to minimize the amount of dust that we give off.
The ISO class 8 (or class 100,000), necessary for the manufacture of electronic equipment and systems embedded in satellites, ensures a level of particles> 0.5 microns in air suspension less than 3.5 million per cubic meter, or what which is the same, 100,000 particles per cubic foot.
The clean room is divided into different zones. On the one hand, Thales Alenia’s clean space equipment manufacturing area is 2,000 square meters. Here the manufacturing processes (welding, component assembly, adhesives) are adapted to the spatial environment.
40% of the International Space Station (ISS) has been manufactured by Thales.
On the other hand, we have the equipment testing area, which is the place where equipment already manufactured is subjected to various tests in order to verify its performance. Some of the ongoing projects are the Meteosat Third Generation, the Ariane 6 launcher and several projects from NASA (PACE, WFIRST or VIPER) and ESA (Galileo, Copernicus or FLEX). 40% of the International Space Station (ISS) has been manufactured by Thales.
Thales has also recently been selected as prime contractor for the Lightspeed constellation by Telesat, a future telecommunications constellation made up of 298 satellites in low Earth orbit. And in 2020 it was selected by Omnispace to manufacture the first two satellites of its future constellation, a first step in developing a global constellation that will offer the world’s first 5G hybrid network, enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) to be enabled.
The environmental test area is where the equipment is subjected to vibrations, electromagnetic compatibility, thermal vacuum, etc. In this way, its resistance to launch is verified, as well as its operation in space.
You can see our entire visit, as well as the technical details of each of these areas, in the next video:
New satellite integration room
We have also had the opportunity to visit the new satellite integration room, inaugurated last July with the presence of the then Minister of Science and Innovation and former ESA astronauts, Pedro Duque. Unique and state-of-the-art facilities in our country that represent a qualitative leap in the capabilities of the national space industry for the integration and testing of large space systems.
To get an idea, before in Spain we could build different parts or components of satellites, but you could not “mount” a complete satellite, which is what this room now allows.
Thales is the world leader in Tracking, Telemetry and Command (TTC) transponders.
The new clean room adds more than 600 m2 of clean area to the 2000 m2 already existing at the Thales Alenia headquarters. It has a free height inside of 12.5 meters and is equipped with overhead cranes capable of supporting up to 12 tons of weight each, which will allow the integration of satellites, payloads and large instruments for all types of missions. space, from telecommunications to navigation, Earth observation and science.
The most surprising of all, however, is that we have facilities like these in our country, in the Madrid Technology Park, in Tres Cantos. Something that we should be proud of, since Thales, in its 32 years of experience in Spain, has already participated in 600 satellites, probes and space vehicles for space agencies and satellite operators around the world, for which it has manufactured in its Tres Cantos facilities more than 4,000 equipment and systems that accumulate more than 200 million hours of operation in orbit.
It is also a world leader in Tracking, Telemetry and Command (TTC) transponders.. And it is also a European leader in climate change monitoring and is at the center of environmental initiatives. A company, in short, that believes that space is the new horizon to conquer in order to build a better and more sustainable life on Earth.