Sep, 2020 - By SMI
Despite the ongoing pandemic, ESA’s antenna testing facility is still operational and carrying out tests of the most recent satellite for IoT (internet of Things).
The major difference in the testing procedures is minimal contact between the staff and fulfilling all the requirements of social distancing, said Eric Van Der Houwen, an engineer for antenna testing. For instance, customers will only enter the testing chamber to mount the nanosatellite and depart, as opposed to normal circumstances when they would stay there for the duration of the testing. Van Der Houwen adds that the engineers work on their own at the facility for majority of the time and interact remotely with colleagues for necessary help such as relocating equipment. Even engineers such as Alfredo Catalini who was stranded in Italy were able to work remotely and obtain all the necessary data for testing.
Catalini explained that the team is currently testing performance of six antennas onboard the nanosatellite and confirm their operability in orbit. The engineers have been provided with simulated performance data which they compare with the actual operation and identify any dissimilarities that emerge. Hiber Global, an aerospace company founded by a team of technology entrepreneurs and satellite specialists, is developing a constellation of small, modular satellites (CubeSats) with the goal of providing internet connectivity at a low cost all over the globe. The CubeSats are scheduled to launch in the summer of 2020 and seeking for a spot within the European Space Agency’s Hertz (Hybrid European Radio Frequency and Antenna Test Zone).
Alfredo added that they are conducting ‘near-field’ measurements of the CubeSat keeping its several antennas in close vicinity. ISIS-Innovative Solutions In Space, a Dutch small satellite expert is manufacturing the CubeSats for Hiber.
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