Pre-Launch Satellite Testing

The Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) is a national facility in Canberra, Australia.  It was established to support the development of the next generation of instruments for astronomy and space science.


Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre

ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics

Mount Stromlo Obervatory
Weston ACT 2611

T +61 2 6125 0230




Virtual tour of the AITC

The specialist environments, advanced processes, precision manufacturing and rigorous test capabilities at the AITC are all essential to meet the needs of the astronomical community, and also make the AITC a world-class facility for the assembly, integration and test of space-based instruments and small satellites.

The AITC is intended to be part of Australia's technological tool box, available to all academic, industry and research organisations.

The AITC offers end-to-end professional services and capability for the design, manufacture, integration and test of precision instrumentation and complex systems.  The AITC actively supports the development of future capability through industry-focused workshops, academic programs, technical training and practical placements.

Integration and Test Capability

  • Cleanroom Facilities

    Large Cleanroom

    • Large high-bay cleanroom (110m2)
    • Cleanliness ISO Class 7 (Class 10,000)
    • 2-tonne gantry crane; 4.5m hook height
    • Electrically-conductive flooring & ESD-safe workstations
    • Temperature and relative humidity controlled

    Detector Cleanroom

    • Small cleanroom facility (30m2)
    • Cleanliness ISO Class 7 (Class 10,000)

    Portable Clean Tent

    • Portable clean tent to reduce work area contamination
    • Can be used in conjunction with thermal, vacuum and vibration testing
  • Thermal & Vacuum Test Facilities

    Space Simulation Facility (S2F)

    • Test envelope 1.5m x 2m x 2.7m
    • 500kg capacity
    • Vacuum thermal cycling and soak
    • Temperature range from -170C to +150C
    • Vacuum <10-6 Torr

    Space Simulation Facility (Thruster Test Configuration)

    • Test envelope 3m diameter x 3.7m long
    • 25kg capacity
    • Thrust measurement (mN resolution)
    • 180,000 litres/sec plume capture

    Small Space Simulation Facility (S3F)

    • Test envelope 0.4m diameter x 0.4 long
    • 25kg capacity
    • Vacuum thermal cycling and soak
    • Range from -80C to +80C
  • Thermal Cycling Facility

    • Ambient pressure thermal cycling and thermal shock
    • Test chamber 1m3
    • -30C to +80C controlled humidity environment
  • Vibration and Shock Test Facilities

    • LDS V850-440 LPT600 Electrodynamic shaker
    • Sinusoidal, RMV, QSL and shock
    • Test item structural and modal analysis
    • Initial capacity for a 25kg test item (22.2kN RMS)
  • 3D Printing (Fortus 400mc)

    • Fused deposition modelling
    • Ability to print in vacuum compatible materials
    • 0.4m x 0.35m x 0.4m build envelope
    • +/- 0.127mm accuracy
  • EMC Chamber

    • Frankonia UCC-L chamber with ferrite and pyramid absorbers
    • 4.2m x 3m x 2.5m (internal)
    • Radiated and conducted susceptibility and interference testing
    • 30MHz - 18GHz frequency range
  • Mass Properties Measurement

    • Moment of inertia (20kg capacity)
    • Centre of gravity (20kg capacity)
  • Material Processes

    • Gross and precision cleaning
    • Plasma cleaning
    • Thermal and optical properties surface treatment
    • Corrosion control treatment
    • Adhesive bonding and vacuum impregnation

Success Stories:

Buccaneer testing

The ‘Buccaneer’ Risk Mitigation Mission (BRMM) is a partnership between Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW), which aims to conduct calibration activities for the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) as well as undertake outer atmosphere characterisation experiments.

The team, aided by spacecraft test engineers the Australian National University (ANU), put the cubesat through its paces in 24/7 thermal cycling at ANU’s Advanced Instrumentation Technology Centre on Mt Stromlo. The satellite was one of two of this type that will be used in the mission.

European Union QB50 Cubesat testing

ANU Science article: CubeSat satellite testing takes off at Mt Stromlo

Updated:  18 February 2018/Responsible Officer:  RSAA Director/Page Contact:  Webmaster