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Airbus Defence and Space will begin expanding a factory near Munich to automated production of solar arrays for satellites in line with Industry 4.0 standards.

Airbus Set to Modernize Satellite Manufacturing

Two-part, $28.3-million project will update solar-array production and expand clean rooms for optical satellite instruments

Airbus Defence and Space has initiated a €25-million ($28.3-million) modernization project at its headquarters site near Munich, Germany. Scheduled to launch this month, the investment will have two main objectives: building an Industry 4.0 factory to automate and digitalize the production of solar arrays for satellites; and expanding clean rooms to produce new optical satellite instruments.

The first part of the project will expand the current solar-array production operation by 800 m2 to a total of 5,500 m2, adding a robotic assembly line to reduce production time and costs. Airbus noted the project will preserve 170 manufacturing jobs, Airbus noted.

The second will expand the site’s clean room by 250 m2 to a total of 1,700 m2 to integrate satellite-based optical instruments, an area in which Airbus has invested over €10 million at that location. The new clean room will be used to build the Methane Remote Sensing Lidar Mission (MERLIN) instrument, a Franco-German satellite project to measure methane concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere, for climate research.

“Today, our solar array production marks our entry into the age of Industry 4.0, with the site now boasting the largest clean room for optical satellite integration in Germany. This will improve our competitive standing worldwide and will contribute towards safeguarding local jobs,” stated Airbus Defence CEO Dirk Hoke.

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