Preparation of Gaia's Deployable Sunshield Assembly at Kourou
Engineers from SENER and Astrium prepare Gaia's 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 long poles or "arms" are the skeleton of the DSA. Having been inspected and installed on the Gaia spacecraft, they are being covered in MLI to provide the thermal shield.
In addition, the DSA also carries some solar array panels to provide power for subsystems on the spacecraft. During the preparation of the DSA, a cover on each panel protects the delicate solar cells.
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.