AEROSPAZIO Tecnologie was founded in the year 2000 with the aim of providing testing and engineering services in the fields of vacuum technology and Electric Propulsion for spacecraft. As far as it concerns EP, AEROSPAZIO has been involved on some of the most sophisticated and challenging European programs of the last years, including:
- the testing for the development of the Astrium (now ArianeGroup) RIT thruster in the frame of ESA programs
- the testing for the qualification of the QinetiQ T6 thruster for the ESA/BepiColombo mission to Mercury
- the testing for the qualification of the Thales HEMP thruster for the ESA/Small GEO program and then in the frame of DLR programs
- the testing for the qualification of the Safran PPS5000 in the frame of ESA NEOSAT program
In this time, AEROSPAZIO got also expertise on other major EP technologies developed in Europe, including plasma thrusters, helicon thrusters, FEEP thrusters.
During the years, AEROSPAZIO has developed a considerable number of test facilities for EP and can offer presently one of the largest arrays available worldwide (more than 10 vacuum chambers of various sizes for a total of vacuum volumes over 400 cu.m.), including some of the larger EP test facilities available in Europe and specific EMI/EMC facilities developed to qualify EP technologies.
The company has a specific expertise on long term testing (several thousand hours of endurance testing) as well as accurate performance measurements (plume propagation and operational characterisation). A full range of EP diagnostics has also been developed to characterise the different EP technologies. In this regard, AEROSPAZIO has also been granted by ESA with two contracts for the development of Electric Propulsion advanced diagnostics and their qualification as a ESA standard on-ground tool for EP testing (ESA Contract No. 20461/06/NL/CP, 2006-2010; ESA Contract No. 4000107451/12/NL/RA, 2014-2018).
Presently, the AEROSPAZIO technical team consists of 30 staff members with different profiles and expertise in the fields of Electric Propulsion, automatic controls, telecommunications, electronics. AEROSPAZIO aims to be a leader in the field of EP testing services and therefore, participates in iFACT project as it can lay the basis for a new successful EP technology where special facilities and diagnostics need to be investigated, developed and demonstrated. The information gathered in the project and in particular, the results coming from the facilities characterisation will be essential for the future European industrial programs on this type of technology.