Week 26/2019

Pocked-sized space

The conditions inside are controlled and results are evaluated via software.
The conditions inside are controlled and results are evaluated via software.
Temperatures between plus 150 and minus 190 degrees Celsius (+302 – -310° F), cosmic rays, zero gravity – satellites are exposed to extreme conditions in space. To ensure that they can withstand this harsh environment and function reliably for years, the conditions in space are simulated before launch in special test facilities. The European company ATT Umweltsimulationen, based in Baden-Württemberg, among others, is developing them – and is currently building one of Europe's largest test facilities.

From the outside, the facilities look like large steel pipes, several meters high and long. At the front they are locked with a thick door. The massive exterior, however, conceals the high-tech interior of the system.

The universe in miniature

Inside the tube is a small version of the universe. Scenarios with different extreme temperatures and pressures can be simulated and controlled in detail via software. Individual components, subsystems and entire satellites are exposed to these conditions in the cylindrical chamber – sometimes in 2,000-hour tests for almost two months. This involves testing whether the material can withstand the conditions or whether the technical systems are overheating.

ATT Umweltsimulationen is constantly developing new and improved test systems to test new types of satellites of all sizes. In addition to standard systems, individual designs are also possible. Their customers are the world's major space agencies. One of the world's largest simulators is located at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) of the European Space Agency.

From the outside, the facilities look like large steel pipes, several meters high and long. At the front they are locked with a thick door. The massive exterior, however, conceals the high-tech interior of the system. The universe in miniature Inside the tube is a small version of the universe. Scenarios with different extreme temperatures and pressures can be simulated and controlled in detail via software. Individual components, subsystems and entire satellites are exposed to these conditions in the cylindrical chamber – sometimes in 2,000-hour tests for almost two months. This involves testing whether the material can withstand the conditions or whether the technical systems are overheating. ATT Umweltsimulationen is constantly developing new and improved test systems to test new types of satellites of all sizes. In addition to standard systems, individual designs are also possible. Their customers are the world's major space agencies. One of the world's largest simulators is located at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) of the European Space Agency. ATT Umweltsimulationen is currently creating a novel simulator for the National Satellite Test Facility of the Science and Technology Facilities Council in Great Britain. A new building will be erected for this purpose, which will be completed in spring 2020. With a diameter of seven meters and a length of 12 meters, the test facility is the largest to date in the United Kingdom and one of the largest in Europe.