The installation of one of the largest space simulators in Europe made by Angelantoni Test Technologies (ACS brand) for the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the UK has just ended.
With a useful internal dimension of 7m in diameter by 12m in length and a temperature range of -180°C to +100°C, it is the largest Therma Vacuum Chamber of this type installed in the UK and will be counted among the "giants" of Europe, destined to perform tests both on interplanetary probes for scientific missions and on commercial satellites for terrestrial orbit.
RAL Space carries out world-class space research and technological development activities with involvement in over two hundred space missions. The works for the construction of the structure had started in November 2018 and ended in recent days with the delivery of the simulator for which exceptional transport was necessary.
The shipment to the United Kingdom from Italy was made by ship. The chamber segments were then taken by a convoy of trucks from the port of Portsmouth to Harwell - at the National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF) in Oxfordshire - in what was one of the largest single road movements the UK has ever seen: the motorways were just big enough to accomodate this "special" transfer.
"This project - explained ACS Project Manager Massimiliano Sugoni - represented a challenge both from a technical-qualitative point of view and in terms of timing. Both requirements have been met thanks to the professionalism and experience of our team in creating very complex chambers in terms of performance and size. During the installation, the client's collaboration was also invaluable: a team was built right from the start with a passion for building one of the largest and most advanced European space simulators".
The ACS Thermal Vacuum Chamber will be part of a suite of environmental test facilities for payloads and space satellites - including equipment for vibration, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and antenna measurement tests - allowing the National Satellite Test Facility to become the reference National Test Center for British aerospace companies, with obvious savings in time and costs.
"This extraordinary work of Italian engineering and technology - commented Gianluigi Angelantoni, President of the Angelantoni Group - reinforces our presence in the Aerospace sector, which began in 1952 with the first vacuum chamber and continued in 1988 with the first space simulator. It also strengthens the Italian prestige in space technologies, given that Italy was the third country in the world to launch an orbiting satellite. "
Angelantoni Test Technologies is proud to have contributed to this project which joins other collborations with worldwide agencies and space companies such as Thales Alenia Space, Leonardo, CIRA, Argotec in Italy and Thales Alenia Space in France, ESA and TNO in the Netherlands , ASTROCAST in Switzerland, INTA in Spain, Roscomos in Russia, ISRO in India, KARI in Korea, ANGKASA in Malaysia and CONAE in Argentina. Many of these projects concern sustainable exploration missions, experimenting new technologies and observation from space to develop environmentally friendly strategies in order to safeguard our planet.
The video of the special transport and the time lapse video of the installation at NSTF are available on the BBC website