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25/04/2009Telstar has built the most advanced space simulation chamber in the south hemisphere

Telstar has designed and developed the most advanced space simulation chamber in the South hemisphere, this chamber will enable trials of complete satellites to be carried out here on earth under thermal and vacuum conditions equivalent to those that the satellite will experience once it is in orbit around the earth. 

This project has been carried out under the direction of the INPE (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais), space investigation center, which is under the governance of the Ministry of Science and Technology in Brazil. 

The installation will enable simulation of the extreme temperatures experienced in space in order to test the operation of the various systems of the satellite as well as the degradation of the materials in the environment of space. 

The space simulation chamber that Telstar has built for the INPE is in the shape of a tunnel or a 'mailbox‘ with internal measurements of 7m in width, 8.5m in height and 9m in depth with a total internal volume of 485 m3.  Its main functional characteristics are an ultimate vacuum level of 1x10-7 mbar and the temperatures control range from -180ºC to +150ºC working with nitrogen gas in the thermal panels (shrouds), or up to -196ºC when flooding the shrouds with liquid nitrogen.  This data acquisition system has 1500 channels for recording and analysis of the experimental data. 

By controlling different temperature settings in each of the 6 zones of the thermal shrouds in the chamber, an environment that simulates the conditions of temperature found when the satellite is maneuvering in orbit around the earth can be created, providing the engineers and designers with vital information of the behavior and functionality of the satellite before launch. 

On the 12th of September, 2008 chamber operational testing was successfully concluded in Brazil. 

Space conditions

In space, far away from the terrestrial surface, the pressure is around 1x10-13 mbar and the temperature to which the satellite will be submitted (depending whether or not it is receiving direct solar radiation) can vary between 650K (377ºC) and 4K (-269ºC).  Direct solar radiation can be considered constant, but the radiation from the earth and reflected energy from the Sun vary dependent upon the meteorological conditions as well as the position and height above the surface.  In addition to this visible and infrared radiation there is also present electromagnetic radiation and various particles with a range of intensity and velocity. 

These environmental conditions are so complex and variable that their simulation on earth is technologically unfeasible, therefore space simulation chambers usually limit tests to vacuum conditions of the order of 1x10-5 mbar, and those of temperature in a range from -100ºC to +70ºC.  The simulator developed by Telstar reaches vacuum values of the order of 1x10-7mbar and temperatures of -196ºC to +150ºC, far beyond than the majority of conventional systems. 

Telstar Technology

Telstar's activities in the Space industry is focused on projects involving design, development and construction of simulation chambers which combine cryogenic technologies and high vacuum.  Among others, Telstar has developed and supplied space simulation chambers for INTA, EADS-CASA (Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA), Thales Space (previously Alcatel Space) and the University of Alcalá.