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The impressive container measures 14 x 5.4 x 4.2 metres and weighs 23 tonnes empty, or between 30 and 37 tonnes with a satellite inside.
It is temperature and pressure controlled, hermetically sealed to maintain the cleanliness of the satellite and has a damping system to absorb shocks and vibrations during transport.
The container can be used to transport satellites to launch sites as different as Kourou in French Guiana or Baikonur in Russia.
Satellite-maker Thales Alenia Space selected Garofoli, an engineering firm based in Terni, Italy, to design and build the container to the challenging requirements.
The first Spacebus Neo satellite, Eutelsat Konnect, will soon be loaded into the container at Thales Alenia Space’s manufacturing site.
The container and its precious cargo will then be driven by truck to Nice airport, loaded onto a huge Antonov cargo plane and flown to the launch site, Europe’s spaceport in Kourou.
ESA’s Spacebus Neo Partnership Project includes the development and validation of the full Spacebus Neo satellite product line including ground support equipment such as the new transport container from Garofoli.
ESA Partnership Projects allow European industry to maintain and continue developing their competitiveness on the worldwide commercial market and enable greater risk sharing, where ESA Member States bear the risks related to the development of innovative solutions and the partner assumes the commercial risks to respond to market needs.
The new Spacebus Neo product line is developed in the frame of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES), in cooperation with space agencies from ESA Member States, and managed jointly by ESA and the French space agency CNES.
The Neosat programme comprises both Spacebus Neo by Thales Alenia Space and Eurostar Neo by Airbus. It includes development up to in-orbit validation of the new satellite product lines for both companies, allowing European industry to deliver competitive satellites for the global commercial market.