This Newry company is testing parts for the Lunar Pathfinder mission

22 Aug 2022

The Lunar Pathfinder spacecraft. Image: Surrey Satellite Technology Limited

Resonate has completed testing parts for Lunar Pathfinder, which will provide communications services for future lunar exploration missions.

Newry-based commercial testing company Resonate Testing, which has previously tested parts for the James Webb Space Telescope, has completed testing on hardware that will be used on the Lunar Pathfinder spacecraft.

Being built by Surrey Satellite Technology, the Lunar Pathfinder is a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite to be launched in 2025 that aims to lay the foundation for dedicated communications, navigation and operations services to upcoming explorations of the moon.

Resonate has been working with Dr Ben Kieniewicz from the European Engineering and Consultancy Limited (EECL) to conduct testing on two payload modules that EECL is supplying the ESA. The company said these modules will provide the first-ever satellite navigation position fix outside the Earth’s orbit.

EECL was assigned the task of turning space satellite manufacturing company SpacePNT’s module into fully tested flight hardware and designing a crucial low-noise amplifier that boosts usable signals, among other design contributions.

Resonate conducted shock response spectrum testing on both the NaviMoon global positioning software – the first piece of hardware to be produced for ESA’s Moonlight Initiative on planned lunar missions – and the low-noise amplifier.

“When Dr Ben Kieniewicz approached us about conducting testing on EECL’s hardware, we were delighted to get involved,” said Resonate managing director Tom Mallon, calling the partnership with EECL on this project “hugely successful”.

“There is so much potential and opportunity within the space industry and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with companies in the UK Space Forum and refine our expertise in this area. We are proud to be able to accommodate this type of testing, in addition to any bespoke testing requirements for clients.”

The purpose of the testing was to ensure the design changes made by Kieniewicz had resulted in an acceptable product that would be able to withstand the harsh ride of launch on a powerful moon rocket.

“When assigned the task of manufacturing and designing the NaviMoon receiver and [low-noise accelerator], my preference was to collaborate with a company that had previous experience in testing space components,” said Kieniewicz.

“The team’s insight, flexibility and attention to detail ensured the testing was carried out to the highest of standards and the whole process was as seamless as could be.”

Resonate has been providing testing and certification services to companies globally since 2015, with a particular focus on the space sector in recent times.

Last year, Resonate worked closely with Irish start-up Réaltra to ensure its equipment for the James Webb Space Telescope could survive launch and the harsh environments of space.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic