Cheops satellite undergoes environmental testing

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Testing Cheops telescope

Intespace has been stressing the Cheops satellite using vibration and impact testing as well as molecular contamination risk assessment.

Intespace has successfully carried out the environmental qualification campaign for the Ritchey-Chrétien telescope on the CHEOPS scientific mini-satellite, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) for a mission to study exoplanets.

The tests on the thermal and structural model were entrusted to Intespace by Almatech, in charge of the telescope’s structure. First of all, the OTA (Optical Telescope Assembly Structure) instrument underwent outgassing tests to analyse the risk of molecular contamination by organic materials. This test was carried out in the 3m3 thermal vacuum chamber equipped for the occasion with TQCM (Thermoelectric Quartz Crystal Molecular) contamination indicators.

This was followed by mechanical tests to validate the behaviour of the equipment in launch conditions. For this, the instrument was tested along its three axes, on the 160 kN exciter for the vibration tests and on the pyrotechnical impact machine (hammer) in an extremely rigorous clean environment, classified ISO 5.

These tests required the use of the maximum capacity of the new control and acquisition station, or some 128 measurement channels. This station allows acquisition by accelerometers, strain gauges and load cells.

The data from these tests were processed using DynaWorks software “a tool which enabled us to save time”, added Hervé Cottard, Managing Director of
Almatech. This new customer was totally satisfied with the results obtained and underlined the “professionalism of the company, the competence of the engineers able to meet our expectations and the flexibility of the teams, capable of adapting in real-time to changes in our needs,” he said.

The OTA instrument on CHEOPS will soon be back at Intespace for outgassing, vibration and thermal vacuum tests, but this time on the flight model.

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