Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has won a contract from the Italian space agency (ASI) to conduct the development of the Space Factory 4.0 program in the frame of the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). Thales Alenia Space is leading a consortium including Argotec, CIRA and Sitael, to develop an interconnected system with facilities located across Italy, set to start operations by 2026.
As the lead company, Thales Alenia Space will consolidate the country’s expertise in the design, production and testing of satellite components. The consortium will call on advanced automation and digitalization to build advanced satellites in particular in the micro and small satellite segment including the Platino and NIMBUS families.
The “Space Factory” will offer the specific means and tools to produce advanced satellites in a wide range from large infrastructures weighting hundreds kilograms to satellites down to a few dozen kilograms to be produced in the large quantities implied by new constellation configurations. Space Factory 4.0 facilities will be located in the Piedmont (Argotec), Lazio (Thales Alenia Space), Campania (CIRA), Apulia and Tuscany (Sitael) regions of Italy, and will be interconnected with the entire supply chain – including startups and research centers – creating an advanced production hub for domestic, European and international space programs.
“I would like to warmly thank the Italian government and the Italian space agency for their unwavering support in the development of this advanced space production system based on latest digital technologies, capable of boosting Italian and European space competitiveness,” said Massimo Claudio Comparini, Thales Alenia Space Deputy CEO and Thales Alenia Space Italia CEO, “Italy is one of the few countries in the world to offer capabilities in all the segments of the space domain. In recent years, the country has undertaken growing investments to further boost innovation potential and its industrial power as shown by the Space Factory initiative. It will deploy state-of-art digital and automated processes to support the high production rates needed for today’s and future’s constellations and mega-constellations, while reducing time to market.”
One of the keys to this interconnected project is a full-digital facility dedicated to the design, production and testing of satellites. A true digital production hub, using advanced technologies throughout all stages of design, assembly, integration and testing, including digital twins, virtual and augmented reality, simulators integrated with the supply chain, robots and cobots, etc. The facility will feature highly versatile clean rooms to support the integration and testing of a wide range of different-sized constellations and satellites for Earth observation, space exploration and other applications.
This contract capitalizes on Thales Alenia Space’s proven strengths as a European leader in government and commercial space projects – as the Galileo second-generation constellation, new satellites for Copernicus program, ROSE-L and CIMR, and the IRIDE constellation – as well as the best knowledge in the aerospace and industrial disciplines from academic centers like Polytechnic of Milan, University of Rome “La Sapienza” and world class global organization like Accenture, leader in the digital and process innovation in support the aerospace sector.
 As part of the implementation of the Operational Plan for the sub-investment M1C2.I4.3 Space Factory 4.0 Programme
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