Comms satellite gets ready for launch

Comms satellite gets ready for launch

Summary: At a plant in Toulouse, France, workers put the finishing touches to a communications satellite that will help bring fast broadband to Europe and neighbouring areas in 2011

TOPICS: After Hours

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  • Here are some of the plasma thrusters that will propel KA-SAT through space by expelling ions of xenon gas at high speed.

    KA-SAT, which is about the same size as a small truck, is carrying enough fuel to stay in its correct orbit for 16 years.

    Photo credit: EADS Astrium

  • This is KA-SAT's solar array, which is 40 metres in span. It will be permanently oriented towards the sun to generate electricity for the satellite.

    Photo credit: EADS Astrium

  • Before launch, KA-SAT is subjected to a number of tests at the EADS Astrium facility.

    In this test the satellite is placed on a vibrating platform to ensure it can withstand the conditions it will experience being carried into orbit on a rocket.

    The satellite will also be placed inside a thermal vacuum test chamber. In the chamber it will be cooled to -170°C and heated to 120°C to simulate the extremes of temperature found in space.

    The satellite's ability to send and receive signals from orbit is also tested in the RF test chamber, a huge room covered in blue foam spikes to absorb excess radiation.

    Photo credit: EADS Astrium

Topic: After Hours


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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