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With the new facility, the comapny is hoping to achive what they call a 'Henry Ford' moment, Source: Aerospacelab

Biggest satellite plant in Europe is taking shape in Charleroi, Belgium

Biggest satellite plant in Europe is taking shape in Charleroi, Belgium

The site will be capable of producing 500 satellites a year as soon as 2025 - only outpaced by Amazon and SpaceX

Yesterday, Aerospacelab broke ground on a new satellite production facility in Charleroi, Belgium. The facility will be capable of producing 500 units annually, making it the biggest satellite plant in Europe and the third in the world, after Amazon and SpaceX, according to Mayor Paul Magnette.

The massive aerospace factory will bring a lot of high-quality manufacturing jobs to Charleroi, the industrial heartland of Belgium, also known as Pays Noir (Black Country) because of its coal and steel works. Furthermore, as the Minister of Defence, Ludivine De Donder put it, Aerospacelab would put Belgium at the forefront of the EU’s commercial space activity.

The ‘Henry Ford’ moment for the space industry

One of the most interesting points the company has made about the new Charleroi plant is that it can turn into their ‘Henry Ford’ moment for satellite manufacturing. Aerospacelab has hopes to establish production lines using off-the-shelf components and know-how from their smaller plant in Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve. They also own and operate all their testing facilities, which makes the new plant ripe for vertical integration and an optimised production cycle.

As CEO Benoît Deper explained in a press release: “We’ve been inspired by the automotive industry where standardised products still have the possibility to be customised for specific needs.”

At the same time, the team hopes to have the new facility up and running by the first quarter of 2025. The Charleroi site will have 16,000 square metres of production space, which includes a 6,000 square meters ISO7 cleanroom and 3,000 square meters dedicated to laboratories.

State Secretary for Digitalisation, Mathieu Michel explained that the company, which started out as a start-up just a few years ago has transformed into a source of pride for Wallonia, Belgium and Europe. As he put it, they offer a lot in terms of innovation, digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy for the whole region.  

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