Preparation of Gaia's Deployable Sunshield Assembly at Kourou
The Gaia spacecraft, with the framework of the Deployable Sunshield Assembly (DSA), in the S1B cleanroom at the Centre Spatial Guyanais in Kourou, French Guiana.
The Gaia spacecraft was flown on an Antonov transport plane from Toulouse Blagnac airport in France to Félix Eboué airport in French Guiana on 23 August 2013. The DSA arrived five days later.
Prior to transport, the multi-layer insulation (MLI) of the DSA had been removed for inspection and storage. Once in Kourou, the DSA had to be 'reconstructed' and tested.
The white framework structure is a gravity compensation system, used for testing the deployment of the ‘reconstructed’ DSA. This system involves hanging the frames of the DSA from a cable guided through pulleys along metallic beams to a system of counterweights placed around the spacecraft. This partly simulates the environment in which the DSA will deploy in space and it protects the DSA during the deployment test.
The Prime Contractor for Gaia is Astrium SAS, based in Toulouse, France. SENER (Spain) is responsible for the development and manufacture of the Deployable Sunshield Assembly. The thermal blankets are provided by RUAG Aerospace Austria and the carbon fibre frames come from RUAG Aerospace Switzerland.