Aerospacelab breaks ground on Charleroi satellite megafactory
Jun 17, 2022
Aerospacelab, the geospatial intelligence startup, is building what it describes as a satellite megafactory at Charleroi, with the goal of achieving a yearly production capacity of 500 satellites. What will be the largest satellite manufacturing plant in Europe follows the launch of its facility in Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve (which will eventually produce up to 24 satellites a year, starting in Q3 of 2022). The new site will be built by Sambrinvest, and it’s anticipated that the first satellites will roll off the assembly line at the megafactory by the beginning of 2025. It di described as having a total working surface of 16,000 square meters, which includes a 6,000 square meter ISO7 cleanroom and 3,000 square meters dedicated to laboratories. The Belgian-based company has taken what it describes as a fully vertically integrated approach, with Aerospacelab involved in satellite design, prototyping, and hardware testing, as well as producing satellites for a broad range of applications. “We’ve been inspired by the automotive industry where standardised products still have the possibility to be customised for specific needs,” said Benoît Deper, CEO and founder of Aerospacelab. “We are establishing satellite manufacturing plants, complete with production lines utilising ‘off-the-shelf’ components. Both at the factory in Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve and at the megafactory in Charleroi, we own and operate all the testing facilities relevant for satellite manufacturing, which promotes the vertical integration that gives us the edge in agility. “Ultimately, we are striving to make the ‘Henry Ford moment’ in satellite manufacturing happen.”
Aerospacelab completed a €40 million Series B funding round back in February, which was intended to support increased satellite production. On Tuesday 14 June, a ceremony organised together with Sambrinvest, officially broke ground at the new site. Attending were European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton; Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister of Telecommunication Petra De Sutter; Federal Minister of Defence Ludivine De Donder; Vice-President of the Walloon government Willy Borsus; Walloon Minister of Budget & Finances Adrien Dolimont; State Secretary for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investments Thomas Dermine; State Secretary for Digitalisation Mathieu Michel; and Mayor of Charleroi Paul Magnette.