The FOREST Series:
Caution: Testing in Progress
In the last post we talked briefly about the preparations that needed to be done before the final assembly of our payload. Today, we will dive into the testing and the different phases in satellite development. After agreeing on the final schedule for integration and launch, we had four months to complete all of the phases before it needed to be shipped to Spire in Glasgow. You could really feel the intensity in the office.
Working from home during the pandemic proved to be very successful for our company so we decided to stick to a “hybrid office” environment, giving everyone the option to work remotely. The opposite was the case for our development team. They were in the office nearly every day, working long hours and sometimes through the night.
Questions would come up like: Were the communication signals looking good? Did the camera point to the right calibration target? Was the camera shutter responding? Were our cables and connectors intact and functional? You know, typical things to consider when building satellites that are going to help save the world from disastrous wildfires. We could really feel the team bonding and were excited to see our hard work pay off.
Throughout the summer, our team had to perform numerous thermal vacuum chamber (TVAC) and shaker tests to make sure FOREST was ready for takeoff. These helped us simulate what the environment of space is like and how our satellite will perform during the launch and in the harsh environment of space. Towards the end we had a fairly advanced system and were able to get the messy cabling into a nice clean setup. It was a long and rigorous process, but we met all of our milestones until the deadline in September.
The Final Goodbye
One of the most exciting things we got to experience as a team was the final assembly of FOREST. It took around 8 hours to fully complete the build and make sure all of the parts were working and in the correct place. After every movement, we took a picture of the steps so we could triple check the pieces. We built two models because it is very important when launching a satellite to space to have a spare one in the lab.
Laura and Dominik assembling the last stage of FOREST
The many hours spent on the development of our first satellite finally came to a close. We spent the last week with FOREST in our Munich office by giving the team a chance to sign their names on the lens cap, as we are all on this journey together. It was a special moment to see everyone’s faces light up when looking at FOREST in its final form, still having that new satellite shine.
In the final post of our FOREST Series, we take the big leap to Glasgow to visit Spire and install our payload into the satellite. Follow on to read all about the experience and what it means to our team to launch the first satellite.