Thermal vacuum chamber can test large space equipment

May 29, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
In Toulouse, Intespace’s Simles auxiliary chamber can simulate temperatures ranging from 100K to 440K at a pressure of less than 10-5 mbar.

The new chamber at the south-of-France location is 5m in length and 4.70m in diameter, offeringmodular, flexible operation: it can accommodate all types of equipment with no specific development being required. Intespace gives the example of its use to test two large satelliteantennas at the same time. The Simles auxiliary chamber saves time, owing to its rapid cycling, and is efficient in terms of operating costs. It is expected to be employed on current qualification requirements for future European space missions such as Solar Orbiter, and Euclid.

The Simles auxiliary chamber was originally the annex containing the pumping system and the collimation mirror for Simles, a space simulation chamber in the Toulouse test centre. The idea of reversibly converting this annex into a complete and independent thermal cavity enabled Intespace to acquire a new facility offering unique capacity in Europe, by optimising the potential of the resources already present in the test centre.

This meant minimal investment for an exceptional service which will resolve many problems in the process of qualifying space equipment. Intespace is a service and engineering company whose main owners are Airbus Defence & Space and Thales Alenia Space, that specialises in environmental simulation tests. It works through close association of its engineering skills, its testing expertise and its Dynaworks data management software. Its methodology makes it an industrial partner capable of supporting its customers throughout the lifecycle of the project, from early design to analysis of results.

The company counts, among its main customers, Airbus, Airbus Group, CNES, Liebherr, NASA, Thales Group, Safran, and Dassault Aviation