Large antennas in the SIMLES auxiliary chamber

How do we offer our customers a pertinent means of testing large antennas? And what high-performance alternative to Simdia can we propose?

Two questions for which the Intespace teams came up with the same answer: the independent use of the auxiliary chamber of the SIMLES space simulation chamber. This question originally arose owing to the site modernisation work, but still remains pertinent now that the work has been completed.

To test large antennas, the SIMLES auxiliary chamber, which contains the pumping device and the solar simulator collimation mirror, is the right size and has all the required characteristics: it can be used to test specimens at very high and very low temperatures, with extremely fast cycles. However, it was an annex of SIMLES and work therefore had to be undertaken for a reversible transformation into a completely independent thermal cavity.

After a study carried out by an in-house team, the technical solution chosen was to put up an inert wall made of MLI – a lightweight material that is easier to use than aluminium – which helps shorten the cycle time. The annex then becomes a sort of large-volume chamber which can take the place of SIMDIA during the work on Fourier. Only six months after the idea was first proposed, the SIMLES annex hosted its first test. It proved to be a rapid and efficient solution, able to accept the largest reflectors, or subassemblies such as solar panels. In the near future, it will even be able to test several antennas at the same time.

Interview with Fabien Cabaret,
Thermal Vacuum Department Manager

2, rond point Guillaumat CS 64356 31029 Toulouse Cedex