Satellite and Payload Processing

L3Harris offers a cost-effective payload processing facility with significant advantages such as large size, excellent RF attenuation, co-located office space, and 10K (ISO Class 7) clean room areas with fully redundant and independent environmental systems. L3Harris' Integrated Processing Facility (IPF), adjacent to Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, is one of the most capable payload processing facilities ever constructed. Built for the Space Shuttle Program, the IPF was designed to process three Shuttle-class payloads simultaneously. Over time, L3Harris Spaceport Systems has extensively upgraded and modernized the facility for use by commercial and government customers looking for efficient satellite and payload processing solutions. 

A World-Class Processing Facility

With nearly 500,000 cubic feet of clean room space, the IPF accommodates most spacecraft or payloads. L3Harris Spaceport Systems’ services, support equipment, and expertise facilitates satellite vehicle final assembly, fueling, checkout, and encapsulation. 

The building’s heavily reinforced concrete and steel construction provides excellent RF attenuation in all processing areas. Processing cell 3 is specially designed to provide ultra-quiet, 80-100 dB of RF attenuation from 0-20 Ghz when its RF door is installed.

Each major clean room area; the transporter airlock; the high bay; and cells 1, 2, and 3, have their own fully redundant HVAC and filtering system. Because each clean room is isolated, recovery can be quick, and operations and conditions are contained within that area. 

L3Harris Spaceport Systems also provides state-of-the-art security services to meet customer needs and ensure customer equipment and high-value items are protected. Our facilities, combined with our team of professionals, enable Harris to deliver world-class satellite and payload processing services to meet most customers’ needs.

IPF Highlights: High Bay, Payload Processing, and Checkout Cells

The high bay provides a large inspection, assembly, and payload erection and encapsulation area for small to very large payloads. All three payload processing checkout cells and the lower transfer tower are accessible from the high bay. Spacecraft transporters can be moved directly from the transporter airlock into the high bay using a variety of methods, including electric tug, air bearing, or, if necessary, transporter tractor.

A 75-ton bridge crane has bridging capabilities along the entire 150-foot length of the high bay/lower transfer tower and trolley capability into each of the processing cells. A certified critical lift crane with micro-drive control, it is used to precisely move spacecraft in and out of the three processing cells and the lower transfer tower. It also plays a central role in encapsulation operations.

The three payload processing and checkout cells are each capable of providing secure mounting and earthquake bracing for the spacecraft. Each cell offers flexible, multi-level platform access and provides a well-lit, electrostatic-discharge-protected location for processing, checkout, and fueling operations.

IPF Highlights: Apron, Transporter Airlock, Transfer Tower, Control Rooms, Administrative Area, and Tech Support Areas

The apron provides a location for inspecting and washing equipment prior to entering the IPF. It offers water; shop air; facility ground; 125, 208, and 480 VAC facility power; 125, 208, and 480 VAC UPS power; lighting; hookups for air pallet compressor; closed-circuit television; area warning lights; communications equipment; and room for work stands. Adjacent to the apron is room for up to three trailers with AC power, tie-downs, and communications equipment. As required, L3Harris Spaceport Systems can also supply portable cranes, forklifts, and other vehicles or equipment.

The transporter airlock is the IPF’s primary entrance for all spacecraft and support equipment. Oversized transports can be either trucked or tugged inside, cleaned, and readied for insertion into one of the processing cells via the high bay. Two 5-ton bridge cranes are available to remove transport covers and meet other customer needs. A large door separates the airlock from the high bay, allowing new spacecraft and ground support equipment to be cleaned without affecting operations in either the high bay or any of the processing cells.

The transfer tower consists of two parts, the lower tower area and the transfer tower airlock, which are connected by a horizontal opening with a large steel rolling door (coffer door). The lower tower area is a 27-foot extension of the high bay, providing an additional 10K (ISO Class 7) clean room area for processing or payload encapsulation. The primary use of the transfer tower is for removal of payloads greater than 25 feet high.

The lower tower area is serviced by two cranes: a 75-ton crane used to move payloads from the cells or high bay to the lower tower area and a 30-ton crane used to lift payloads from the lower tower area up to the transfer tower airlock.

Once a payload is lifted into the transfer tower airlock and the coffer door is closed, the payload can then travel out the tower airlock doors and be lowered to an awaiting transporter on the SLC-6 pad deck.

The IPF has three control rooms with cable conveyance to the processing cells. The main control room, 8910, has the largest floor space and the greatest capabilities. Control rooms 8903 and 7903 are smaller, but are closer to processing cell 3. Control room 8910 is located on the administrative side of the IPF, while control rooms 8903 and 7903 are located on the clean room side of the IPF. Customers can gain access to 8903 and 7903 without clean room suits. All three control rooms are outside of the potential hazardous environments of the processing area.

The IPF has two floors dedicated to administration use. These two levels contain ample office and technical space for L3Harris team members and customers. Access to these rooms is through the main lobby adjacent to the Operations Support Center. Once inside, two stairwells provide access between levels. The administration space includes a breakroom and multiple conference rooms that are available for use by all personnel in the IPF.