The University of Portsmouth has acquired a European Space Agency (ESA) school which trains and qualifies technicians to build electronic components vital to the success of space missions.
ASTA Technology Ltd., which has been based at the university since 2008, is one of just seven schools worldwide accredited by ESA to train space operators in the assembly, maintenance, and repair of mission-critical space electronics applications.
Space electronics are a highly-specialised area because of the unique stresses to which spacecraft, probes, and satellites are subjected.
Assemblies must be built to withstand the enormous vibrations of launch, a temperate range of -85C through 50C, and the depressurisation of space.
Professor Djamel Ait-Boudaoud, Dean of the Faculty of Technology, said: “The addition of ASTA Technology to the list of the university’s subsidiary companies is a clear indication of our ambition to enhance our business innovation activities to expand our contribution to the success of the city’s knowledge base and economy.
“This acquisition extends the University capabilities in a very important sector to the UK and European economies.
“It will also increase the University’s portfolio of continuing professional development activities – a key strategic ambition for us – and provide opportunities for students to acquire additional skills to enhance their employment prospects in the future.”
While ASTA Technology’s main customer base will be existing space manufacturing companies, the training is relevant to businesses supplying any kind of electronic assembly/sub-systems for any part of the launch/flight/operation to comply with ESA’s standards.
A closer integration of the training school within the teaching provisions of the School of Engineering will open doors for access to expertise and specialist materials, tools, and processes to support individual and group projects.
A new team has been appointed to run the business, based in the Anglesea Building, home of the University of Portsmouth’s Faculty of Technology, including operations director Dr. Misha Filip, lead instructor Brett Smith, and previous owner and instructor Bill Strachan as a consultant and instructor.
Dr. Tommaso Ghidini, Head of the Materials Technology at ESA, said: “Satellites are really made by hand across many key areas. The ready availability of high-level expertise in flight electronics soldering, assembly and inspection underpins the ongoing success of European space missions — it is an essential pillar of our space adventure.
“These are the vital competences that the ESA Skills Training School has been passing to space operators since its formation in 1988. Over this period more than 3,600 students have been trained to meet required ESA standards of performance, in the service of more than 180 companies.
“We welcome the acquisition of ASTA Technology by the University of Portsmouth and look forward to continuing this valuable collaboration for many years to come, serving to maintain Europe’s excellence in space manufacturing.”
ASTA Technology delivers courses on-site and in customer premises in the UK and overseas.