We carry out tests of the components, mechanisms, subsystems and complete space vehicles (e.g. satellites) in a simulated and fully controlled space environment on the ground.
Testing in a thermal-vacuum chamber enables, among others:
- verification of the design and its mechanical execution,
- confirmation of correct operation in flight:
- demonstrating the soundness of the structure;
- verification of operation in accordance with the specification in a characteristic environment;
- measurement of critical operating parameters (power dissipation);
- verification of performance (in terms of specifications) in the target environment,
- measurement of critical performance parameters (heat dissipation),
- confirmation of the assumptions of the thermal model,
- conducting bake-out and verifying the type of degassed particles.
Thermal-vacuum chamber – tests
Types of the conducted tests:
- environmental load tests,
- performance verification,
- thermal verification of equipment,
- outgassing test with dynamic mass loss,
Testing is carried out at four stress levels:
- Development testing – performed in order to obtain data for analysis, implementation possible at any time of the test sequence.
- Qualification testing – verification of the hardware and the production process, excluding the quality of workmanship; environmental exposures greater than expected in orbit. Testing is not performed on a flight model.
- Protoflight qualification testing – performed on a flight model, also called protoequal testing or flight-proof testing.
- Acceptance test – verification of the quality of workmanship and demonstration of “flight-worthiness”, carried out after the qualification test.
Thermal-vacuum chamber – characteristics
The chamber is equipped with ECODRY40 roots pumps and MAG1600 turbomolecular pumps to achieve a vacuum level of 10-6 mbar (10-5 Pa).
- internal volume of the chamber: 4.5 m3;
- usable testing space: 3.5m3;
- measurement table dimensions: 2100 x 1000 mm;
- 7 independently temperature-controlled thermal plates (independent cooling and heating circuits);
- cooling system: liquid nitrogen;
- sliding on rails and a tank made of 304 L stainless steel;
- tank cover with a diameter of 1140 mm, inside coated with high emissivity black paint (type MAP 11 + PU1);
- temperature of each of the panels and modules of the inner jacket adjustable in the range from -180oC to +165oC;
- temperature stabilization using LN2 and GN2;
- automated process of controlling and monitoring the chamber’s operation monitored remotely using the “SPIRALE Vs” software;
- approximate rate of temperature changes of about 1.5oC/min when heating and cooling;
- cleanbox ISO 7 class, according to ISO 14644-1 standard;
- quartz microbalance [QCM];
- built-in residual gas analyzer (RGA);
- protected zone (EPA zone) against electrostatic discharges (ESD protection).
The Environmental Tests Laboratory is an accredited laboratory according to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories”, the scope of PCA AB132 accreditation.