Thirty years of space history at L'Aquila, Italy
Symbol of industrial rebirth for an area struck by a violent earthquake in 2009, the newThales Alenia Space facility, one year after having opened its doors, is fondly recalled in the book “L’Aquila nello Spazio, il cuore della tecnologia satellitare” (L’Aquila in Space, the Heart of Satellite Technology), published by Mondadori Electa, presented a few days ago at the palazzetto dei Nobili in L’Aquila.
The book, written by employees of Thales Alenia Space, traces the history of the company’s space activities and recounts the journey of the Abruzzo capital along the path of advanced technology, from the birth of the electronic hub and through the evolution of space technologies, to touch upon the tragic earthquake and the current reality that the new facility constitutes. Focus is placed on the choice and commitment of Thales Alenia Space and its shareholders to keep production in a territory in which the company has been present for over thirty years.
The L’Aquila site has manufactured electronic components for numerous Italian, European and world missions and it is now live with activities of technological development, product industrialization and production of electronics, hybrids, antennas and composite structures for use in a wide range of space applications.
The new structure, following post-earthquake retransfer of its activities to temporary sites, now works at full capacity and staffs 300 among specialized engineers and technicians. Aside from Thales Alenia Space historical production, the site now hosts new production lines with prime focus on the manufacture of lightweight and large SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite antennas.
The production areas were designed following the Lean Design criteria with the goal of obtaining continuous, optimised with highly reconfigurable workflows such as to meet the needs posed by production volume and technological variation.
Currently the site in L’Aquila is busy with the realization of the key elements for the major European and international space programs such as telecommunication constellation of American account Iridium Next, the interplanetary deep space exploration probes such as Bepi Colombo and Solar Orbiter, the Galileo program for the creation of a European satellite navigation system, the satellites of the Second Generation Cosmo SkyMed constellation and the "sentinels" for the Copernicus program as well as the upcoming ambitious program of exploration of the red planet, ExoMars.