Why are satellites treated so carefully on Earth?

You’ve got questions – and we’ve got answers! We saw this tweet yesterday:

A quick email query to Sean Blair, ESA’s editor for the Technology & Engineering web pages, generated this reply:

ATV-4 in its container together with its temperature control unit 19 Sep 2012. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique

ATV-4 in its container together with its temperature control unit 19 Sep 2012. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique

Satellites are carefully treated all the way to space; even when within their launcher fairing preparing for launch, they are still being carefully air conditioned for environmental control via a dedicated umbilical feeding into the fairing from the launch tower. The aim is to avoid dust and humidity that could degrade their delicate electronics and instrumentation. At Estec, prior to shipping to the launch site, they are put through simulated equivalents of a rocket launch using shaker tables and acoustic tables to ensure they can survive the stresses of a rocket launch (Kazakh roads can be quite tough sometimes as well…).

Throughout their lives on Earth, they are kept within clean room conditions, which are maintained on an active basis even as they are placed into crates to travel from the manufacturing facility to test centre to launch site. Hope that helps; Envisat’s umbilical fell out back in 2002, but fortunately a rain shower kept the fairing cool enough that no condensation occurred before it could be reattached.

By the way, have you seen these?

 

 

 

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