Cutting edge acoustic testing demonstration
18 May 2018



Representatives from the European space community were invited to Harwell this week to hear about the latest progress towards the National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), which will begin construction later this year.

Speakers used in the Direct Field Acoustic Test at RAL

​​​​​Speakers used in the Direct Field Acoustic Test at RAL


​The community were invited for a demonstration of Direct Field Acoustic Test (DFAT*), a method of subjecting satellites to the acoustic vibration they will encounter during their launch. It uses a system that comprises a large array of purpose-built loudspeakers and specialised real time control.

Large speakers used in the Direct Field Acoustic Test at RAL.

MSI DFAT Services of Baltimore, Maryland in the US demonstrated their DFAT capability at RAL Space, using a full-scale DFAT system and an SSTL spacecraft structure. DFAT equipment is portable and can be flexibly configured, unlike a conventional reverberant field acoustic testing (RFAT). This is a relatively novel method of acoustic test for satellites in Europe.  

This event was an opportunity ​for space organisations to see this technology in action and to take part in the discussions RAL Space is conducting with future users of the NSTF.

RAL Space was awarded £99 million from the Government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to develop the NSTF following a UK Space Agency study into space facilities available in the UK. The study highlighted the need for access to a comprehensive set of co-located facilities for environmental testing of space payloads and satellites. The NSTF will provide cutting edge environmental test facilities for space payloads and satellites up to 7000kg to space organisation in the UK and from around the world.

 Overhead view of the speakers at RAL facility.Presentation of the DATF technology to representatives from the European space community gathered at RAL.*DFAT is a registered mark of MSI DFAT Services, LLC.


Top: ​​​​​Speakers used in the Direct Field Acoustic Test at RAL. Credit: STFC RAL Space

Bottom: Overhead view of the speakers at RAL (left). Presentation of the DATF technology to representatives from the European space community (right). Credit: STFC RAL Space