Disruptive Innovation for Space Centre

The Satellite Applications Catapult, with support from Innovate UK, is creating a Disruptive Innovation for Space Centre (DISC) to tackle a number of critical challenges facing the UK space industry. DISC will provide equipment and expertise to enable UK companies to accelerate the process of creating innovative new products and growing their businesses.

Currently, SMEs are restricted in the availability of high-tech laboratory space, as the design, manufacturing and test equipment is consistently too expensive to both acquire and maintain. While generic small-scale manufacturing capability exists in the UK, the lack of association of such capabilities with specialist digital and radio frequency test equipment necessary severely constrains the ability of SMEs to innovate. Additionally, these companies struggle to access the broad network of world-class experts required to develop truly innovative products. Larger companies often experience very different challenges where big company culture and the need to maintain existing product lines creates a significant hurdle to creating something new and truly innovative.

DISC addresses these challenges for UK industry by providing access to capabilities that integrate digital design, rapid prototyping, automated testing and manufacturing technologies. These are geared towards the acceleration of innovation; testing of disruptive ideas and technologies; and manufacturing of prototype products.

The world-class facility will support industrial and academic teams in taking an innovative R&D project from proof of concept all the way through to a full sized prototype, manufactured at quality levels and scales sufficient to undertake end-customer validation. Access to DISC will be charged at competitive rates and teams will be able to base themselves at DISC throughout the project’s duration.

The current proposed technology domains are:

  • Modelling and design laboratory
  • Engineering and prototype workshop
  • High frequency and digital RF and test laboratory
  • Prototype production & assembly
  • Specialist satellite assembly and test.

To capitalise on existing infrastructure, DISC will leverage complementary capabilities in universities, other research institutions and industry where this is applicable and can be made available. DISC will coordinate and collaborate with other Catapults such as the High Value Manufacturing and with RAL Space. The UK has some of the best universities in the world and to tap into UK academia, the DISC team will broker collaboration between industrial organisations and research teams for use of the facilities. In the future, we are hoping to launch an apprentice scheme to train the next generation of space engineers.

Near Field Range

The Catapult’s Spherical near field range (Azimuth turntable and Theta over Phi swing arm) is housed in a purpose built 4m anechoic chamber. Highly accurate plots in both planes are rapidly displayed in multiple formats including Cartesian, Polar and 3D along with calculations of feed focal distance etc.

Frequency range: 1.1GHz to 40GHz
AUT diameter: 1.5m
AUT weight: 190kg (maximum vertical loading)
Measurement receiver: VNA – Rhode & Schwarz ZNB400

If you have an idea or want to know more about how DISC could help you, and find out how this new facility can potentially support your innovation and growth, please email: disc-support@sa.catapult.org.uk

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