First pyroshock tests completed at RAL Space
01 Dec 2020



A satellite’s journey into space is a violent affair. Not only does the delicate instrumentation inside need to withstand the extreme vibrations of launch, they also go through a series of short, sharp shocks as the spacecraft separates from the rocket.


​​​​​​​​AlbaPod V2 picosatellite dispenser being readied for pyroshock test at the RAL Space vibration facility.

Credit: STFC RAL Space​

Pyroshock is the latest addition to RAL Space's satellite test capabilities. The new system simulates the explosive jolts experienced as a craft is delivered into orbit.

The first customer to use the pyroshock rig was Alba Orbital​, a Glasgow-based small sat company who develop tiny picosatellites measuring just 5cm x 5cm – half the size of a standard cubesat.

Dr Ian Horsfall, Dynamics Group Leader at RAL Space said, “The team have worked hard to commission the pyroshock rig. I'm delighted that the first tests went so well and that this new capability is part of our work to help innovative SMEs, like Alba Orbital, get ready for launch."

The vibration team tested the AlbaPod V2 picosatellite dispenser to qualify it to deploy 9 PocketQube satellites for launch early next year on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporter 1 mission. These sharp vibrations can be incredibly damaging so the team were pleased that the dispenser successfully resisted accelerations of up to 4000g. 

Tom Walkinshaw, CEO at Alba Orbital said, “AlbaPod V2 is the most robust light-weight PocketQube deployer with flight heritage. By verifying the AlbaPod can resist large shock accelerations this has enabled us to qualify the product for a greater range of launch vehicles."

The new pyroshock rig, was delivered in early 2020 and has been undergoing extensive trials by the expert vibration facility team. The test was also the first run the new data acquisition system which will be used to support test campaigns in the National Satellite Test Facility​.

To enquire about use of our test facilities please complete this form, or for more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries.


AlbaPod V2 picosatellite dispenser mounted and ready for pyroshock testing. Credit: STFC RAL Space​