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ACS supplied ESA with a small TVC for nanosatellites

Small TVCs for small satellites: ACS for education

As the number of small satellites increases, the trend for small space simulators is also growing.

Small satellites are becoming increasingly popular and, as with any object destined to travel in space, they must be tested, verified and certified before launch. Checking the proper functioning of satellites – either large or small – before they are subject to any conditions that could compromise their performance is essential. If the behaviour in space is not examined beforehand, the most frequent risk is freezing or overheating of the components.

Consequently, small Thermal Vacuum Chambers are also becoming increasingly popular. On our website we have told you about the small simulator we built for ESA, operating at the Education Training Centre in Belgium and intended for integration activities and assembly tests for CubeSats, but there are plenty of examples.

Read "Small Thermal Vacuum Chamber for tests on Microsatellites: ESA and the 'Fly your Satellite!' initiative ".


What is the difference between a large and a small space simulator?

The main difference between a small space simulator and a large one is the volume. The function is actually the same: both serve to reproduce the vacuum and temperature conditions that satellites will face in operational conditions.
Most Test Centres and Space Agencies are equipped with Thermal Vacuum Chambers designed for large satellites, and even the space simulators on the market are usually larger than the test requirements for a small satellite; a useful test volume exceeding the actual requirements results in a larger space occupied by the facility and higher operating costs. The consumption of energy and fluids spent during the thermal and vacuum tests are operational costs that have a significant impact on the mission's profit and loss account. This is why, as the number of small satellites increases, the trend for small space simulators is also growing.

Classification of small satellites

Development time and low costs make miniature satellites increasingly attractive. In addition, technological advances in the field allow now many possible uses for small satellites, such as scientific research, telecommunications, technology testing, earth observation and much more. In opposition to their size, the amount of data acquired by these small satellites is large and growing.

Small satellites are defined as all those with a mass of less than 500 kg; they are further classified into Picosatellites, Nanosatellites, Microsatellites and Minisatellites.


ClassMass (kg)
Picosatellite< 1
Nanosatellite1 - 10
Microsatellite10 - 100
Minisatellite100 - 500
Conventional Satellite500 - 1000
Conventional Large Satellite> 1000


Thanks to know-how and flexibility combined with a constant search for innovation, Angelantoni Test Technologies is a world leader in the strategic aerospace sector.