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Inside SSTL's new Kepler building

For anyone visiting the SSTL headquarters in Guildford UK during the past year, it’s been hard to miss the construction of the new state-of-the-art Kepler Building just opposite. True to SSTL’s approach, the building, that was just blueprints months ago, is now ready for business and is already filling up with people and equipment. With projects such as the European GNSS payloads and the DMC3 Earth Observation constellation on the go, SSTL has far outgrown their original facilities at University of Surrey and there have been plans of a new completely customised building for some time. Space Blog caught up with SSTL Facility Manager Tim Gilbert, who oversaw the design and build of the new facility, from planning to construction. Tim pointed out how they used all their previous experience when planning and designing the Kepler building. Capitalising on input from engineers and employees whilst taking production workflow into consideration, was essential to make the new facility as functional and efficient as possible. Tim Gilbert said "We needed to predict not only the future increased size but also the handling challenges associated with the future generations of satellites. As SSTL is moving towards producing larger and heavier satellites, we don’t want to be constrained by the size of the building in which we’re working. With the Kepler building we’re able to meet our 5-10 year business plan". The new facility’s cleanrooms, laboratories and testing facilities total 3,700sqm (40,000 sqft), a huge step change upwards in production capacity. Satellites as big as GIOVE-A can easily fit through the cleanrooms with 11 metre high ceilings, wide doors and large access corridors. The Kepler Building will accommodate typically 40 permanent staff, and anything up to 100 further project specific staff from across the company at peak test and integration periods. New world-class Assembly, Integration and Test halls are integral to the new facility, providing two 125 cubic metre walk-in thermal chambers, a seismic test platform, monorail and gantry cranes ranging from 3,200kg to 15,000kg and reinforced floors - providing the greatest possible flexibility for integration and testing of both small and larger spacecraft simultaneously. The Kepler Building is also assessed as Very Good through the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), evaluating a range of issues from the building’s user friendliness to it’s environmental impact.
Work’s already underway in the new Kepler facility
Work’s already underway in the new Kepler facility
Satellites currently being assembled and tested in the new world-class test halls include TechDemoSat-1 and the Kazakhstan medium resolution satellite for Astrium. Six SSTL satellite missions are scheduled for launch this year: NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X for NASRDA, KANOPUS 1 and 2 spacecraft for VNIIEM, ADS-1B for COM DEV, and SAPPHIRE for MacDonald Dettwiler Associates (MDA). The new capacity also plays an important role in SSTL’s contract to supply the first 14 European GNSS payloads in partnership with OHB Technology, which will be assembled in the secure facility.





12 July 20110 Comments1 Comment

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