Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New device allows safe and fast access to Large Space Simulator

22.03.2005


A new ‘specimen access device’ (SPAD) to allow safe and fast access to spacecraft being tested in the Large Space Simulator chamber is now fully operational at ESA’s Test Centre.



The SPAD is basically a customised crane, carrying a basket to move an operator inside the Large Space Simulator (LSS). The LSS is a huge chamber at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, which can simulate the space environment. Its exceptional test volume makes it an excellent tool for testing large satellites and systems under conditions very close to those found in orbit.

The SPAD moves on parallel rails on the top floor of the LSS building. It has three main parts: the main bridge, the trolley that moves along the main bridge, and the ‘telescopic’ mast with the operator’s ‘basket’ at the end.


Increasing safety and reducing manpower

It was completed in the last quarter of 2004 and will be used in future test campaigns, for example for the Automated Transfer Vehicle thermal test preparation, scheduled in the coming months.

Until now, it has been used for checking the yoke configuration of ADM-Aeolus, the new global atmospheric observing satellite, and for a ‘videogrammetry’ set-up in preparation of the thermal test of the Herschel far-infrared observatory (videogrammetry is a measurement technology in which the three-dimensional co-ordinates of points on an object are determined from video images taken from different angles).

The new system was designed mainly to the increase the safety for both the operator and the test items, and to reduce the time and manpower needed for different operations during test campaigns and test set-up procedures.

During previous test campaigns, if test engineers wanted to make checks or modifications to a spacecraft or system in the LSS, they were dangled on a special harness inside the chamber from an overhead crane, the so-called ‘Flying Dutchman’ operator.

Manoeuvres around the spacecraft being prepared for test were controlled visually by another engineer outside the chamber. However, this system posed safety problems, for example the operator could, due to a wrong manoeuvre, collide with equipment, damage test items, or worse, get injured. A new and drastically improved access system was needed.

For the new SPAD, an anti-collision system was built in by fitting ultrasonic and contact sensors to the basket. These prevent the basket from potentially damaging test items or other equipment positioned in the LSS, and assist the operator when manoeuvring in the limited workable volume of the LSS. Particular care was used to avoid any incompatibility with previously existing equipment located around the LSS chamber.

Improving the efficiency of future test campaigns

According to ESA test engineers Alessandro Cozzani and Rene Messing, relatively simple operations like routeing of thermocouples, installation of accelerometers on a test specimen, or pre- and post-test inspections could have not been easily performed without the help of the SPAD. “Tests can be interrupted now, for example, for minor checks or modifications to be made, without causing serious delays,” they said.

The technical staff of ETS, the European Test Consortium, in charge of the maintenance and operation of the ESTEC Test Centre, confirmed the operational safety and ease of use of the SPAD, which will be a valuable tool to improve the efficiency of future test campaigns. The equipment has worked flawlessly so far, reducing overall time of a test set-up of a videogrammetry system by at least two days over a foreseen two weeks for installation.

The system was designed and manufactured under ESA contract by ADS International Lecco (Italy).

Francesco Ratti | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM13ORMD6E_index_0.html

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon
27.06.2017 | WayCon Positionsmesstechnik GmbH

nachricht Air pollution casts shadow over solar energy production
27.06.2017 | Duke University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>