Strathclyde Supporting Historic UK Space Launch

8th Nov 2022
Strathclyde Supporting Historic UK Space Launch

Space experts from the University of Strathclyde are providing their support in testing critical satellite technology in the run-up to the historic UK space launch. The A series of satellites will be launched, with the IOD-3 Amber satellite expected to be the first. This is all part of Virgin Orbit’s Inaugural Spaceflight from Newquay, dubbed the Start Me Up mission. 

Strathclyde is working with the UK and US governments on the Start Me Up mission. The satellites involved will offer a broad range of unique data, from satellite phones’ GPS locations to maritime radar ‘fingerprints.’

Supporting mission-critical testing

The team for Signal and Image Processing at Strathclyde has been offering support for the testing that is being carried out on the Amber 6U satellite’s Radio Frequency (RF) sub-systems.

Dr. Christopher Lowe is the Principal Investigator, and he explained why this is such a critical part of the process:

“Testing is a critical element, if you can’t talk to your satellite then the mission is at high risk of failure. So much hinges on good communication with the satellite to ensure that things are going as planned.”

An RF test will simulate a number of radio frequencies across the spectrum to make sure that the satellites function as they are meant to. 

An experienced team that has worked on numerous space projects

This is not the Strathclyde team’s first rodeo. They have worked on a number of previous space projects, including design work for Scotland’s first satellite and developing nano satellite spacecraft. 

Dr. Lowe stated that this prior expertise has proven helpful in terms of testing and integrating new instruments. Adding:

“We have a nice heritage of supporting other first activities which has allowed us to gain expertise in developing these test bed satellites.

“It means we have the equipment and expertise to fairly accurately emulate how the spacecraft will behave using our hardware.”

Dr. Lowe has already travelled to Cornwall to conduct in-situ testing. Applying the research on-board real space missions has enabled the team to demonstrate relevance and impact.

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