A small Thermal Vacuum Chamber for tests on microsatellites: ESA and the “Fly your Satellite!” initiative
From the UK to Spain, the best European universities make use of ACS experience for important test activities carried out in Belgium at ESA's Education Training Center.
The ESA's Education Training Center named CubeSat Support Facility (CSF) is an assembly integration and testing facility for microsatellites located in Transinne in Belgium. They have recently purchased a small ACS space simulator with an internal volume of 200 l, fully dedicated to training initiatives for university students.
The CSF laboratory is equipped with a clean room, a 20Kn vibration test system, the ACS Thermal Vacuum Chamber - to recreate the vacuum and temperature conditions that CubeSats will experience in space, with temperatures ranging from extreme heat to extreme cold - and other complex and specialized equipment not often found in Universities.
This all contributes to helping students gain knowledge and experience in satellite engineering and space project management.
Since December 2018, important tests have been carried out with the ACS TVC within the "Fly Your Satellite!" initiative.
Various teams from the University of Southampton, UK and the University College of Dublin, Ireland have performed thermal vacuum tests on in-house developed antenna distribution mechanisms. Both teams successfully demonstrated the ability of their mechanisms to deploy antennas after being exposed to thermal and vacuum cycling. The teams also gained critical insights into functionality in extreme cold conditions, which will help them make further improvements to their designs.
The Polytechnic University of Catalonia also carried out tests on the distribution mechanism of the Nadir antenna in the ACS TVC.