Charleroi, 14 June 2022
Press Release - Aerospacelab builds megafactory to produce 500 satellites yearly
Aerospacelab proudly unveils its satellite megafactory commitment, with a yearly production capacity of 500 satellites, making it effectively the largest satellite manufacturing plant in Europe. This groundbreaking new site, which will be built by Sambrinvest in Charleroi, follows the launch of its Monnet Center facility, located in Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve, which can produce up to 24 satellites a year.
Dedicated to generating positive impact globally by making geospatial intelligence actionable and affordable, Aerospacelab has taken a fully vertically integrated approach. The team is closely involved in satellite design, prototyping, and hardware testing, producing satellites and constellations for a broad range of applications. With these wide-ranging capabilities, Aerospacelab supports decision-making through satellite intelligence in environment protection, sustainable commodity production, agriculture, infrastructure monitoring, security, and more.
Since its inception in 2018, Aerospacelab has been striving to meet the accelerating demand for satellites in the decade ahead. Propelled by its 40m euro Series B fundraise back in February 2022, the company is already ramping up satellite production capacity, deploying multiple constellations to establish same-day monitoring of the Earth’s surface, and implementing Aerospacelab’s unique geospatial data fusion analytics capabilities.
Benoît Deper, CEO and founder of Aerospacelab, explains: “We’ve been inspired by the automotive industry where standardised products still have the possibility to be customised for specific needs. We are establishing satellite manufacturing plants, complete with production lines utilising ‘off-the-shelf’ components. Both at the factory in Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve and at the megafactory in Charleroi, we own and operate all the testing facilities relevant for satellite manufacturing, which promotes the vertical integration that gives us the edge in agility. Ultimately, we are striving to make the ‘Henry Ford moment’ in satellite manufacturing happen.”
According to Euroconsult, by 2030 over 1700 satellites every year worldwide are expected to be launched.
On Tuesday 14 June, a ceremony organised together with Sambrinvest, was held to celebrate breaking ground at the new site. Attending were European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton; Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister of Telecommunication Petra De Sutter; Federal Minister of Defence Ludivine De Donder; Vice-President of the Walloon government Willy Borsus; Walloon Minister of Budget & Finances Adrien Dolimont; State Secretary for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investments Thomas Dermine; State Secretary for Digitalisation Mathieu Michel; and Mayor of Charleroi Paul Magnette.
Willy Borsus, Vice-President of the Walloon government, said: “Sambrinvest plays a structuring role in the economic development of Wallonia and real estate is now an important pillar of their strategy. Aerospacelab Megafactory project is the perfect illustration of the essential role a venture capital can play to vitalize our economy and ensure that Wallonia and Belgium stay at the forefront of technology in Europe and in the world.”
The first satellites will roll off the assembly line at Aerospacelab’s new megafactory by the beginning of 2025.
Established in Belgium, Switzerland and France, Aerospacelab is a fast-growing company created in 2018, counting more than 140 full time employees. With a unique vertically integrated approach, Aerospacelab is specialized in satellite platforms and geospatial intelligence. It designs, manufactures and operates constellations of remote sensing satellites, empowering intelligence and insights by its proprietary satellite data.
About Aerospacelab’s factory in Monnet, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve
- Total working surface of 2.000 square meters, which includes a 550 square meter cleanroom and 420 square meter dedicated to laboratories
- Yearly production capacity of 24 satellites
- Estimated start of production in Q3 of 2022
About Aerospacelab’s megafactory in Charleroi
- Total working surface of 17.500 square meters, which includes a 4.500 square meter cleanroom and 2.000 square meter dedicated to laboratories
- Yearly production capacity of 500 satellites
- Estimated start of production in Q1 of 2025
Quotes from attending politicians
Petra De Sutter, Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister of Telecommunication
“I am pleased with Aerospacelab which is a real Belgian success story. And telecommunication is one of the most important pillars of the space industry. Through the easy transmission of video images, satellites can offer interesting services for temporary installations, like during sports competitions. Besides, satellites can provide secure communication services, which can be crucial in case of network interruptions, e.g. during natural disasters or humanitarian missions. Finally, this technology can make mobility more efficient, both in terms of time and consumption, thus contributing to the sustainability of our activities. Nor should we forget that monitoring and observation of the environment and climate is also possible thanks to satellites!”
Ludivine De Donder, Minister of Defence
“Space is to be understood as an operational domain. From space you can observe, listen, orient yourself or even transmit information: in other words, getting involved in the space sector contributes to the national security strategy. Concentrating cutting edge skills in space engineering as well as a production site of this magnitude will allow Belgium to be among the strategic players in the sector in Europe.”
Thomas Dermine, State Secretary for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investments in charge of Science Policy
“As member of the Belgian Federal Government in charge of space policy, I would like to congratulate the team of Aerospacelab for the set-up of a Megafactory in Charleroi, Belgium. Our country has a long-standing excellence in the space industry. The new factory of Aerospacelab is important step to further position Belgium in the space field and stay at the edge of technological innovation. Ahead of the 2022 ESA Ministerial Meeting, the Belgian Government is committed to support the ambitious agenda set by the European Space Agency. Investments in space can contribute to address global challenges like climate change but also contribute to the development of local industrial clusters like Charleroi.
Mathieu Michel, State Secretary for digitalization
“Beyond being a pride for Wallonia and Belgium, Aerospacelab is a pride for the whole of Europe. From a start-up, it has become in a few years a solid innovative company that contributes not only to European digital sovereignty, but also to its strategic autonomy. Its disruptive business model and technological developments push innovation beyond its limits, building progress for all.”
Paul Magnette, Mayor of Charleroi
“I am very pleased with this news. Every day jobs are being created in Charleroi. Our metropolis is succeeding in its industrial reconversion by positioning itself in cutting-edge sectors such as aerospace here and biotechnology in Gosselies, for example. The strategy of economic redeployment initiated by the Catch plan is bearing fruit.”
Short biography Benoit Deper, CEO and Founder of Aerospacelab
Benoît Deper is the CEO and founder of Aerospacelab. Prior to founding Aerospacelab in 2018, he has worked as a Research Associate at the IMD Business School, Lead Engineer and CTO of Swiss Space Systems, Young Graduate Trainee in the Systems Engineering directorate at the European Space Agency.
With over 35 years of experience working alongside companies and entrepreneurs, close to 300 companies in its portfolio and more than 180 million euros under management, Sambrinvest is a major venture capital player in Wallonia. More than just an investment fund, Sambrinvest is also a catalyst for the development of local ecosystems, such as biotech, digital and engineering. Recently, Sambrinvest has made several strategic investments in key infrastructure projects for the economic development of the region and will make real estate an important pillar of its strategy for the coming years.
Copyright images: © OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen / Sambrinvest
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