About SFL: Facilities: Microsatellite Science & Technology Centre (MSTC)

January 25, 2014

Figure 1 – The Microsatellite Science and Technology Center (MSTC), Home of the Space Flight Laboratory.

The Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) maintains complete and comprehensive facilities to support the complete development cycle of satellites and spacecraft, from initial conception to final environmental testing. SFL also maintains ground support equipment, ground stations, and a mission control center to support needs in the field, including launch campaigns in other countries, commissioning and operation of satellites following launch. The manufacturing and test facilities at SFL have been used over the last 15 years to develop several operational satellites currently in space and many more under construction that are about to launch in the near future. In support of SFL projects and collaborations, the lab maintains the following facilities:

  • Server and client based computer network with high-end application software for analysis, design, simulation and management.
  • Assembly, Integration and Test Equipment for soldering, inspection, electronic test, signal and power supply.
  • RF and microwave test equipment (UHF to X-band).
  • Professional, in-house technicians certified to J-STD and J-STD space addendum.
  • “Flatsat” tables and bench equipment for integration of units into satellite systems.
  • Thermal Cycle Chambers for unit level thermal cycle tests.
  • Small and Medium-sized Thermal Vacuum Chambers for unit level thermal vacuum tests, design qualification in vacuum over temperature, and for propulsion system and XPOD tests.
  • Large Thermal Vacuum Chamber in clean room for spacecraft level thermal vacuum tests. Uses liquid nitrogen shroud and test rigs for local IR lamp heating to emulate conditions in space.
  • Cryorefrigerator for cold testing to 50K.
  • Ground stations and ground tracking antenna systems for satellite operations (UHF and S-band).
  • Ground segment racks with terminal node controllers, radios, amplifiers, umbilical boxes, laptops for portable off-site functional testing of satellites.
  • Mission control center for commissioning and operating satellites either with in-house ground station or other stations around the world over secure Internet.
  • Three-axis air bearing table for attitude control tests.
  • Magnetic field chambers for simulating controlled magnetic fields and calibrating magnetometers.
  • Large Anechoic Chamber in clean room for EMC and antenna testing.
  • S-band Anechoic Chamber for smaller EMC and antenna testing requirements.
  • EMC Chamber.
  • Mechanical integration facility.
  • Fume hood area for chemical and propellant handling.
  • Vibration test facility in clean room, capable of testing to launch loads for nanosatellites and microsatellites.
  • Large solar array simulator for microsatellite missions.
  • GPS Signal Simulators.
  • Dark room and optical test benches, optical test equipment.
  • Inventory room and temperature/humidity controlled chambers for long term part and unit storage.
  • Certified Class 10,000 Clean Room, approx. 1,500 sq. ft. with two Class 1,000 laminar flow benches for optics. Clean room is divided into three areas: assembly, thermal vacuum, vibration/anechoic.
  • Meeting rooms for design reviews and coordination with clients and suppliers.

Figure 2 – The Microsatellite Science and Technology Center (MSTC), Home of the Space Flight Laboratory.

The above facilities are part of a $10M infrastructure investment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation that includes a new 12,000 sq. ft. building that recently opened in May 2012. The newly established Microsatellite Science and Technology Center (MSTC) has complete facilities for end-to-end mission analysis/design and satellite design, assembly, integration and test, including spacecraft environmental test facilities. These new facilities triple SFL’s in-house capacity and capabilities with the ability to support multiple missions under concurrent development, and microsatellite class platforms. As a result, SFL is able to offer superior value to its clients through the cost savings associated with using the end-to-end capabilities of the MSTC. Figures 1 through 10 illustrate the MSTC and its major facilities.

Figure 3: MSTC Assembly, Integration and Test Laboratory

Figure 4: MSTC Assembly, Integration and Test Laboratory

Figure 5 – MSTC Clean Room

Terra Universal Installation at Univ. of Toronto's Microsatellit

Figure 6 – MSTC Clean Room, Assembly and Integration Area

Figure 7 – MSTC Clean Room, Assembly and Integration Area

Terra Universal Installation at Univ. of Toronto's Microsatellit

Figure 8 – MSTC Clean Room, Thermal Vacuum Chamber for Spacecraft Testing

Terra Universal Installation at Univ. of Toronto's Microsatellit

Figure 9 – MSTC Clean Room, Anechoic Chamber (background), Vibration Table (foreground).


Figure 10 – MSTC Mission Control Center


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