Design and Technology KS3 / GCSE: How satellites are tested

A satellite has to undergo extreme physical stresses as it is launched, during its flight and so it remains functional for 15 years.

We see a satellite launch and learn what these stresses are. Each component has to be fit for purpose, thereby they must survive the vibration of the launch, substantial shock waves and explosive charges.

We visit British satellite company, Astrium to witness two rigorous tests; a 20 G vibration test and a shock test. A mixture of graphics and footage lead us through this journey.

Teacher Notes

Could be used to demonstrate how testing should consider the demands that will be placed on a product.

The class could consider additional tests that would be needed if the satellite was to host astronauts or for a lunar lander.

These might include immersion testing to check that the astronauts living area is airtight and testing resistance to changes in temperature.

Students could then prepare a list of the tests that would be needed for a specified simple product, such as an item of cutlery or a chair.

This would involve producing list of the required properties and specifying a suitable test for each of them.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching KS3 and KS4/GCSE Design and Technology, materials.

This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC in England and Wales, CCEA in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 and Higher in Scotland.