Page 20

Frontiers March 2013 Issue

I never thought I’d be in. But I love it, and it’s amazing to see our little part in there when the satellite’s built.” A spacecraft’s two main parts are assembled separately before being joined in the satellite assembly area. The “bus” contains the propulsion engines, avionics and stability controls, solar wing controls and power systems. The “payload” is the half of the satellite that generates revenue for its owner and contains the computers, antennas, reflectors and other equipment that perform its mission. “The electronics are getting more advanced, so you can do more things with the payloads now in half the space it used to take,” said Jeff Riglin, who’s worked 22 years for Boeing. He’s a technician in the facility’s high-bay area, where satellites are completed and spend their final months before being moved out for launch. Before leaving the factory, however, each satellite goes through rigorous testing. Thermal vacuum chambers simulate on-orbit conditions; large vibration tables can re-create intense shaking; and the acoustic chamber subjects the satellite to the roaring noise it will experience riding atop a rocket. Deployment of the solar wings, moving antennas and signal transmitters also are tested. Alejandra Ramirez, a Quality Assurance engineer in the Satellite Development Center, adds her critical eye to make sure everything’s put together right. While grow-ing up not far from the factory, she showed an early knack for mechanical things. “I grew up with guys—brothers, cousins, neighbors—and they used to call me a Miss Know-it-all because I liked to fix things,” said Ramirez, who interned during college at Boeing and came to work full time six years ago. As a quality inspector, Ramirez admitted she’s not always everyone’s favorite co-worker, “but it’s better if we find a problem rather than the customer.” Once a satellite arrives at its launch site, it is inserted into a rocket and blasted into space. Employees with Space and Intelligence Systems help shepherd many satellites into service from the Mission Control Center in El Segundo. That’s where employees work in shifts around the clock to make sure the satellite ends up in the right orbit and is operating flawlessly before 20 BOEING FRONTIERS / MARCH 2013


Frontiers March 2013 Issue
To see the actual publication please follow the link above