minigallery: Alphasat receives its wings
Alphasat now has both its solar array ‘wings’ installed, ready for shipment. Solar arrays are the power source for satellites and, as the engines that fuel Europe’s largest telecom satellite, Alphasat’s stretch to an impressive 40 m. The solar arrays were installed one by one at Astrium. Before being connected to the spacecraft, each array is deployed on a special support rig, then attached to the satellite. Finally, it is carefully folded back on the spacecraft, bringing it into launch configuration. This process is repeated with the second wing after the entire spacecraft has been rotated to provide access. Alphasat is in full flight configuration now that the arrays are secured, and the final preparations are being made – on track for the upcoming shipment to Kourou, French Guiana, and launch on 25 July.