Happy 40th Birthday to Thales Alenia Space Rome and L’Aquila sites
40 years of passion, innovation, and technology at the heart of the global space ecosystem
Rome, December 4, 2023 - Thales Alenia Space, a Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) joint venture, is celebrating 40 years since the establishment of its industrial sites in Rome and L'Aquila. Four decades that encapsulate a history of adventurous challenges and great successes, where high technology meets high skills in the capable hands of the women and men who bring great professionalism and passion to every project. These sites have forged an important path, thanks to the support and contribution of the Italian and European Space Agencies, as well as the work carried out for the Defense Administration and the important commercial activity, contributing to Thales Alenia Space Italia global recognition as a key player in the world of space in a constantly evolving journey. Established in 1983, Rome and L'Aquila plants are now among Thales Alenia Space's largest industrial facilities in Europe.
Thales Alenia Space Italia's Rome site headquarters are in the outlying eastern area of the city, in a high-tech industrial setting known as the capital's Technological Hub. This location represents the company's strategic heart in Italy, and it also houses the Satellite Integration Center and the Antenna and Equipment Development Center. By 2025 it will also house the Space Smart Factory, an all-digital smart factory among the largest in Europe. The most prestigious Remote Sensing, Earth Observation, Telecommunications and Satellite Navigation Programs have originated in Rome’s clean rooms, making the site a global benchmark in satellite manufacturing, development, and integration of cutting-edge space technologies, while contributing to the growth of the country's space economy.
© Thales Alenia Space
Similarly, L'Aquila’s plant, a state-of-the-art technopole serves as a hub for the production of all equipment, focusing on technology development, product industrialization and space-qualified production of hybrids, printed circuit board assembly (PCBA), electronic components, composite antenna parts and structural satellite parts of different classes and application fields such as remote sensing, telecommunications, exploration, navigation, radar and defense. The plants in Rome and L'Aquila grew rapidly in the past three years to reach today 1,200 and 400 employees respectively.
"I am truly proud to celebrate this prestigious anniversary today. Stories of space success from Rome and L'Aquila plants have boosted our company's reputation over the years, formerly as Selenia, then as Alenia Spazio. Today, Thales Alenia Space is an undisputed key player of the international space scenario promoting significant technological advances in the space industry. The best wishes for the 40th anniversary of our company come at a time of strong growth of the space activities in Italy and Thales Alenia Space, in synergy with the academic world, major universities, small and medium-sized enterprises as well as startups, is at the forefront of the growth of Italian and European Space,said Massimo Comparini, CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia. “Thales Alenia Space's accomplishments and expertise are now integrated in a New Space approach, at the service of innovation and sustainable development, tackling the most complex technological challenges and positioning the company at the forefront of future space technologies, while maintaining the relationship with the local territories,” added Comparini. “We will keep working, day by day, in our laboratories, in our clean rooms, in our 21st century factories to build the probes, modules, and satellites of the future, but above all to build a future of knowledge and prosperity for our youth and our national community.”
© Thales Alenia Space
“After celebrating in the recent months, the 40 years of the Thales Alenia Space Toulouse site in France, and the 60th anniversary of the Charleroi site in Belgium, I am particularly pleased today to celebrate Rome and L'Aquila, two sites with paramount importance in Thales Alenia Space’s industrial and technological setting in Europe. The diversity and complementarity of our sites pinpoint all the dynamism, expertise and passion of our teams who have contributed and continue to contribute firsthand to the success of our company," said Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space.
A cutting-edge site in the fields of Telecommunications and Observation and Science
© Thales Alenia Space
Over the past 40 years, Thales Alenia Space's industrial sites in Rome and L'Aquila have established themselves as centers of excellence in the satellite telecommunications field. The industrial history of these sites boasts deep roots in telecommunications (Intelsat, Hot Bird, Arabsat, Italsat, Globalstar, O3b, Iridium NEXT, Athena-Fidus, SICRAL), science and exploration (Hipparcos, Beppo Sax, Cassini-Huygens, Rosetta, Integral, Mars Express, Venus Express and ExoMars), and remote sensing (ERS 1 and 2, Envisat, Met-op, COSMO-SkyMed, Sentinel). Today we are involved in the second Generation of the Italian CSG constellation and working on the new satellites of the European Copernicus Program, with the CHIME - CIMR - Rose-L satellites. The company will also supply a first group of 6 small satellites based on SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) technology and 1 satellite based on optical technology for ESA's innovative IRIDE constellation. The development of 4 high-resolution Earth Observation radar satellites carries on under the Korea "425 Project" of the South Korean Agency for Defense Development (ADD). In the field of telecommunications, the Sicral 3 satellite is being developed. In addition, L'Aquila plant is fully involved in the manufacture of components for the 81 Iridium NEXT telecom satellites.
At the origin of satellite navigation: from Galileo's IOV satellites to its second generation (G2G)
© Thales Alenia Space
Rome site also gave rise to satellite navigation in Europe. Thales Alenia Space has been a key partner in the Galileo Program since its inception: in charge of the Galileo System Support Contract, the company has provided industrial support to the European Space Agency (ESA) by performing system activities related to the design, performance, integration, and validation of the system. In addition, Thales Alenia Space is the prime contractor for the development of the Galileo Mission Segment and the Galileo Security Facility, providing control to the entire navigation satellite system. The company also provided key elements such as signal generation units and antennas for the first 22 satellites of the FOC (Full Operation Capability) phase of the Constellation. Thales Alenia Space also performed the assembly, integration, and testing of the 4 IOV (In Orbit Validation) satellites group. With the Second Generation of Galileo, in Rome’s clean rooms, activities are underway to construct a group of 6 satellites, that will be part of the new constellation, and recently the Galileo Second Generation (G2SB1) team has successfully completed the mechanical test campaign on the composite launch configuration of the structural models (SM) of two satellites, at ESA's ESTEC Test Centre in the Netherlands.
Thales Alenia Space a breeding ground of innovations and a New Space approach
© Thales Alenia Space
By 2025, the Space Smart Factory, one of the largest smart, digital and reconfigurable factories in Europe, will be operational in Rome. Part of a system of interconnected space factories located in Italy, the Space Smart Factory will employ advanced technologies to build satellites of different classes and application areas. Thanks to modular clean rooms and the use of digital techniques, the Space Smart Factory will be able to be reconfigured according to the required productions to enable the integration and testing of a wide variety of satellites of different classes and space applications such as Earth Observation, Navigation and Telecommunications. The center, a true digital hub, will also host the Space Joint Lab, an innovative and collaborative space geared toward training new professionals in the field of space disciplines and developing innovative ideas and products in partnership with SMEs, startups, suppliers, industrial partners, and eco-system research centers. L'Aquila plant, rebuilt after the tragic earthquake in 2009, is also a symbol of an innovation and resilience, focused on technological and engineering excellence, reinforcing, and qualifying the company's industrial presence in the area. Thanks to the sophisticated equipment used and the high level of professionalism achieved by the engineers and specialized technicians working there, it boasts levels of excellence in both technologies and production quality.
Established in 1983, following extraordinary challenges such as the launch of the San Marco and Sirio satellites, Selenia Spazio, thanks to its expertise in 'space electronics, software, design and production of equipment, antennas, radar, and scientific instruments, has led and contributed to the most important national space missions. Among them Italsat, a satellite telecommunications system that revolutionized long-distance communications in Italy. While the company consolidated in the field of telecommunications with ESA's Olympus satellite, research and developments began in the radar field applied to Space. Followed by the contribution to ERS-1 (European Remote-Sensing satellite), the first mission of the European Space Agency (ESA), launched in July 1991. The fully-fledged industrial dimension of Selenia Spazio takes shape in the merger with the space branch of Aeritalia, itself a leading player in space infrastructure and scientific probes since the 1970s with its Turin site. Established in 1991, Alenia Aerospazio, became the largest space company in our country. In the 1990s, the company now called Alenia Spazio, expanded its activities into the Earth Observation field. In particular, the first collaboration with NASA for the dual mission "X-SAR" materialized: a synthetic aperture radar flew on the Space Shuttle mission in 1994. The U.S. Space Agency's recognition of its in-orbit radar expertise enabled the Italian company to acquire a primary role also in a major interplanetary exploration mission such as Cassini-Huygens. With Ers in the area of Earth observation satellites, the collaboration with ESA continued with the Envisat mission launched at the end of the decade (2002), which laid the foundation for even more complex and ambitious European projects in the area of environmental monitoring, such as the Copernicus program. Meanwhile, in the telecommunications field, the company achieved a new industrial success with Artemis, a European telecom satellite for scientific and service purposes. In 2001, the launch of SICRAL's first satellite took place. In 2004 the merger of Alenia Spazio with another Italian company in the sector, LABEN of Milan, which specialized in digital electronics and scientific space instrumentation, followed. Thus, the main Italian space manufacturing activities were concentrated in a 'single entity. As of January 29, 2005, Alenia Spazio was integrated with Alcatel-Espace, forming the French-Italian space manufacturing joint venture Alcatel Alenia Space (AAS) (Alcatel 67%, Finmeccanica 33%). In 2005, the Space Alliance, the strategic partnership between Leonardo and Thales, the main industrial groups in the aerospace sector of Italy and France, was established. It is formed by two joint ventures: Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) and Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%). The complementarity of Thales Alenia Space's capabilities in satellite systems and Telespazio's in related services provides the Space Alliance with all the assets needed to respond positively and effectively to the needs of the market, which today is increasingly focused on applications related to space technologies. The joint venture then became Thales Alenia Space starting from April 5, 2007, with the 'acquisition of the Alcatel share by the French defense and electronics group Thales. From this point on, the company has strengthened and demonstrated its European footprint up to the present day. Thales Alenia Space is today recognized as a key player in the space adventure, a leader in the fields of Telecommunications, Navigation, Earth Observation, Environmental Management, Exploration, Science and Orbital Infrastructure. Thales Alenia Space is present in Italy with state-of-the-art production sites and "clean rooms" in Rome and L'Aquila as well as in Turin and Gorgonzola, with around 2,600 employees.
ABOUT THALES ALENIA SPACE
Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.2 billion euros in 2022 and has around 8,500 employees in 17 sites in 10 countries across Europe and a plant in the USA.
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