Airbus builds cleanroom for aerospace projects in Germany

The Integrated Technology Centre boasts 4,200 sqm of space dedicated to building satellites, probes, space instruments and experimental technologies

Airbus’ Friedrichshafen site has opened one of Europe’s most state-of-the-art satellite integration and space technology centre, known as the Integrated Technology Centre (ITC).

The ITC in Germany, which triples the area of cleanroom space to 4,200 sqm, is dedicated to building satellites, probes, space instruments and experimental technologies. The centre took only two years to build at a total cost of approximately €45 million.

“Airbus’s significant investment in this building also represents an investment in the future – both for the Airbus site at Lake Constance and for Baden-Wuerttemberg as an aerospace location. When it comes to space technology, we are now a step ahead of the rest of Germany – in terms of science and research, development and technology, and enthusiasm for the aerospace industry,” said Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Minister-President, Winfried Kretschmann.

With the developments in space flight companies are trying to meet the swiftly increasing demand for high-performance, ultra-reliable Earth observation, meteorological and navigation satellites.

This new building does vast amounts to rise to this challenge.

Spotless satellites

With dimensions of 70 x 60 m and a ceiling height of up to 18.50 m, 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.

The centrepiece of the new ITC is its large cleanroom. The final integration of the satellites takes place under cleanroom conditions of various ‘cleanliness classes’ (from ISO 8 to ISO 5) in facilities totalling approximately 2,100 sqm, of which 400 sqm are dedicated to ISO 5.

Extensive air conditioning and filter systems circulate an air volume of 900,000 cubic metres up to 60 times an hour, which not only ensures the required levels of cleanliness but also a consistently elevated air pressure, in addition to controlling humidity and temperature.

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

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

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.

The two wings of the ITC provide a further 1,100 sqm 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 multifunctional showroom and information space, whose large panoramic windows provide a unique view of the flight hardware production process.

Putting it to use

Four Sentinel satellites for the European environment and security programme ‘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.

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