Newry company plays key role in success of James Webb telescope space launch

A County Down company’s technology has played a key role in the launch of the world’s most powerful and complex telescope which will look for life on other planets.

Resonate Testing, which is based in Newry, conducted vibration and shock testing on equipment used to launch the James Webb telescope which will allow astronomers to study the beginning of the universe shortly after the big bang 13.8 billion years ago, as well as hunting for signs of life-supporting planets in our own galaxy.

Resonate Testing worked with Dublin-based Réaltra Space Systems Engineering, which played a critical role in the launch by providing video images of the separation of the equipment used to protect the spacecraft during launch, and the spacecraft from the rocket.

Managing Director of Resonate Testing, Tom Mallon, said Christmas was significant for the company with the telescope being launched on Christmas Day.

“As a company we were extremely proud to have played a part in the successful launch of the huge Ariane 5 launcher and the James Webb telescope from the European Space Agency’s station in French Guiana,” he said. “We have been working with Realtra Space for some time, and in recent years we have been competing on a global level by exploiting key upstream resources and developing world-class space downstream capabilities.”

Réaltra Space Systems role prior to the launch was to ensure all products underwent a rigorous “qualification” test campaign, which validated that the design could survive the harsh environments of the launch and space. The process included extensive testing by Resonate Testing’s team to ensure the tests were completed to the required space industry standards.

Resonate Testing operates provides a range of testing processes for a wide range of sectors from its Newry base with an increasing volume of work coming from the space sector.

In 2020, the company was awarded Platinum in the Innovate NI Innovation Accreditation programme for its delivery of high-quality live stream testing to global customers, including Réaltra, throughout the global pandemic.