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School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering

Space systems facilities

Our lab is equipped with a world-leading range of equipment for simulation of and experimentation into material behaviours in the extreme conditions of space exploration.

ROAR (Rarefied Orbital Aerodynamics Research) Facility

The Rarefied Orbital Aerodynamics Research (ROAR) facility is a ground-based experiment that reproduces the atomic oxygen flux found in Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO). ROAR is designed to provide a deeper understanding of how materials behave in such environments.

The facility is composed of a 1400L ultrahigh vacuum system capable of 10-9 to 10-11 mbar; a hyperthermal oxygen atom generator with a flux of 1013 to 1015 atoms/cm2/s flux; and ion-neutral mass spectrometers for measurement of the energy, velocity, and composition of the flow.

An ISO 7 (Class 10,000) cleanroom is used to provide a suitable environment for test-sample loading, preventing contamination of the system.

Thermal vacuum chamber

Our space environment chamber can be used for thermal vacuum cycling of small spacecraft components or 1-3U CubeSats. The system consists of a 130L vacuum chamber capable of a vacuum pressure of down to 10-5 mbar.

The system also houses our thermal shroud with a range of approximately +120°C to -50°C with a test volume of 10cm x 30cm x 10cm. 

Satellite ground station

Our satellite ground station can communicate with spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit.

The system is capable of both command uplink and data downlink on both S-band (MHz) and UHF/VHF (MHz). Autonomous tracking capability is provided though a programmable all-weather rotator and pass-prediction software.

Research and testing

  • Solid rocket motor thrust rig
  • Lunar excavation environment simulator
  • Hybrid rocket motor
  • CanSat deployment using solid-fuel rockets and multi-rotor platforms
  • Helmholtz cage for magnetic field experimentation