Astrium has sold its spacecraft momentum/reaction wheel business to Stork in the Netherlands. Following divestment approval from the European Commission, contracts were exchanged on a deal, which fulfilled the conditions applied by the Commission to enable the formation of Astrium in May 2000.
After a 15-month selection process involving many interested European companies, STORK PRODUCT ENGINEERING (SPE) was chosen as the preferred purchaser. SPE of The Netherlands has thus acquired, from Astrium, the rights and hardware necessary to continue the production of Mechanical Wheels for both institutional and commercial markets.
SPE already has considerable space expertise and this acquisition strengthens its product base - building on its recent successful deliveries of mechanical and electronic units for the European Robot Arm (ERA) hardware for the International Space Station and ignition systems for the Vulcain engine of Ariane 5.
Astrium's Mechanical Wheels business began in the 1970s at what were Hawker Siddeley Dynamics, and later British Aerospace Space Systems in Stevenage, England. With development support from the European Space Agency, flight hardware was, over the years, supplied for a wide range of missions, both commercial and scientific and a large number of spacecraft.
These included ESA's Olympus communications satellite and the ESA cornerstone science missions SOHO, XMM, INTEGRAL and latterly Rosetta. Non ESA sales included Radarsat 1 for Canada, Skynet 4 for the UK MoD, Apex and SeaSTAR for Orbital Science Corp., USA and GreenSat for Houteq, South Africa. The largest of the wheels produced by Astrium had, with 40NmS at 0.3Nm torque, the highest performance capability available from any European supplier.
SPE is a part of the Stork Aerospace Group, which now includes all Fokker activities and technologies. In 2000 the Stork Aerospace Group realised a turnover of EUR 585 million out of a total Stork of EUR 2.6 billion. The Stork Aerospace Group has 4,300 employees out of a total Stork headcount 19,000.
Astrium, Europe's leading space company, is a joint venture owned 75% by EADS and 25% by BAE Systems. In 2000, Astrium generated consolidated revenues of more than EUR 2 billion through products and services for a number of sectors: science and Earth observation, military observation and communications, telecommunications, navigation and ground systems, launchers and orbital infrastructure. It has 8,000 employees.
Astrium Sells its 'Wheels Business' to Stork in The Netherlands