Astrium opens satellite test site

Astrium has launched a £1m facility at its Portsmouth site which will be used to test its entire range of satellites including those used for Earth observation, telecommunications and exploration spacecraft.

John Denham, the secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills, opened the ‘Triton Range’, which took 18 months to refurbish.

The Triton Range is an anechoic chamber, meaning it is fitted with shielding which reflects emissions from electronic equipment. In it, satellites can be tested for electromagnetic compatibility, spherical near field testing for high power antennas and satellites payloads and planar near field scanning of antennas and radar, primarily for Earth observation satellites.

Astrium’s managing director Colin Paynter said: ‘The new Triton Range gives Astrium in the UK a unique world-leading capability in the testing of satellites. We build some of the world’s most sophisticated satellites in Portsmouth – including telecommunications satellites capable of broadcasting 500 TV channels and up to 4000 radio stations – and this new facility helps us stay at the forefront of satellite technology. This investment of £1m on a facility that would cost some £40m to build from scratch today, demonstrates Astrium’s long-term commitment to the UK space industry.’

Denham said: ‘The UK space industry has world-leading expertise and technologies worth £4.8bn each year and employs over 16,000 highly skilled people across the UK.

‘Space activity pushes forward the boundaries of our knowledge and understanding of this planet and others. It helps to ensure the UK is the number one place to be for the best scientists, engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists in the world.

‘Astrium’s latest investment will continue to ensure the UK space industry plays a major role in the future of the global space economy.’