Newry company provides testing for launch of James Webb Telescope

Newry company, Resonate Testing has conducted high level vibration and SRS shock testing on equipment that was used as part of the successful launch of the James Webb telescope on Christmas Day.

By Claire Cartmill
Friday, 7th January 2022, 11:47 am

The $10bn telescope, the largest, most powerful and complex telescope ever built, has been described as a “time machine” by scientists and will allow astronomers to study the beginning of the universe shortly after the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago, as well as hunting for signs of life-supporting planets in our own galaxy.

Resonate Testing, the leading commercial test house on the island of Ireland, was the mechanical test services partner to Dublin based Réaltra Space Systems Engineering, which played an important role in the historic launch of the Webb space telescope.

The Réaltra team provided the Independent Video Kit (VIKI) that captured the images of the separation of the fairings (equipment structures used to protect the Webb spacecraft during launch). It also captured the iconic view of the Webb telescope spacecraft itself as it separated from the Ariane 5 rocket while travelling at thousands of miles per hour and hundreds of miles above the Earth.

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Managing director of Resonate Testing, Tom Mallon

Réaltra Space Systems ensured that all products underwent a rigorous “qualification” test campaign, which validated that the design could survive the harsh environments of the launch and space with sufficient margin.

Resonate’s experienced and knowledgeable team successfully took on the challenge to recreate the stresses and shocks that the video kit would be subject to during the Ariane 5 launch, and completed the tests to the required space industry standards.

Speaking about the launch of the most ambitious space based observatory ever built, the $10bn James Webb telescope, which was blasted into space on top of a giant European Ariane 5 rocket, managing director of Resonate Testing, Tom Mallon, said he was delighted to have been a part of history.

He continued: “Christmas was extra special this year. As a company we were extremely proud to have played a part in the successful launch of the huge Ariane 5 launcher and the James Webb telescope from the European Space Agency’s Spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana.

The $10bn James Webb telescope which was launched on Christmas Day

“We have been working with Réaltra for some time and in recent years we have been competing on a global level by exploiting key upstream resources and developing world-class space downstream capabilities.”

Danny Gleeson, co-founder of Realtra Space Systems Engineering, said, ““The world now has iconic images of the Webb Space Telescope with the Earth in the background as it separated from the upper stage of Ariane 5 and begins its historic mission to explore the universe on behalf of humanity.

“We were all proud that a small Irish space start-up like Réaltra, assisted by SMEs like Resonate Testing, could be selected to capture such an important moment in space history.”

Danny continued, “Our experience with Resonate Testing has been technically excellent and helpful throughout this process. The innovative team at Resonate conducted high-quality testing and helped us overcome any testing challenges we had, enabling us to deliver on time to our customers. We are delighted to have found a truly collaborative and innovative space test partner.”

Reìaltra Space Engineering VIKI Camera

Resonate Testing operates from its Centre of Excellence for Space in Newry and provides a range of testing processes across many sectors. The company has seen an increasing number of tests within the Space Sector, which can be attributed to its ability to rapidly develop and approve new capabilities, following requests from customers – not just in the space sector, but across the many industries that they service. This demonstrates their exceptional engineering services as a tried and tested facilitator.

In 2020, the company was awarded Platinum in the Innovate NI Innovation Accreditation programme for its cutting-edge processes that seen the delivery of high-quality live stream testing to global customers, including Réaltra, throughout the global pandemic.

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