A vacuum chamber with thermal cycling capabilities over extreme temperatures has been created in France to support European space programmes.
A unique facility has recently been opened in Europe by Intespace, which will be able to simulate the environment of space systems and sub-systems in extreme temperature conditions.
This new facility is the Simles auxiliary chamber which can simulate temperatures ranging from 100K to 440K at a pressure of less than 10-5 mbar. It measures 5m in length and 4.70m in diameter, offering modular, flexible operation. It can accommodate all types of equipment with no specific development being required.
For example, it can be used to test two large satellite antennas 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 the ideal answer to current qualification requirements for future European space missions such as the Solar Orbiter and Euclid.
The Simles auxiliary chamber was originally an annex containing the pumping system and the collimation mirror for Simles, a space simulation chamber in the Toulouse test centre. The idea of reverse engineering 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.
Minimal investment was therefore used to create this essential service which will resolve many problems in the process of qualifying space equipment.