Sunday, April 28, 2024

Space Environment Simulation Laboratory | NASA's Johnson Space Center

Space Environment Simulation Laboratory | NASA's Johnson Space Center

This is Building 32, Chamber A at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas. After it was constructed in 1965, the Space Environment Simulation Laboratory (SESL) tested all Apollo command and service modules, Apollo lunar modules, spacesuits for extra-vehicular activity, the Skylab/Apollo telescope mount system, Space Shuttle systems, the Apollo/Soyuz docking module and various large scale scientific satellite systems, such as the parabolic reflector subsystem of the Applications Technology Satellite. The thermal vacuum testing done at the SESL since 1965 has been a significant factor contributing to the success of both the crewed and uncrewed space program of the United States.

Johnson Space Center’s Chamber A is a 16.8 m (55 ft) diameter x 27.4 m (90 ft) high, thermal-vacuum test facility and is famous for testing the Apollo spacecraft, with and without the mission crew. Its usable test volume and high-fidelity space simulation capabilities are adaptable for thermal-vacuum testing of a wide variety of test articles, including entire space vehicles. Test articles are normally inserted into the chamber by means of a precision, mobile crane. The dual crew-locks, when configured for human testing, provide a means for the test crew to move from ambient air pressure to the thermal-vacuum environment and back. They also provide for the maintenance of rescue personnel at convenient intermediate pressures during crew test operations. When the inner door is bolted, either of the crew-locks can be used as an altitude chamber for independent tests.

Additional test support equipment includes mass spectrometers, infrared cameras and television cameras. The numerous flanges at all levels provide ample pass-throughs for electrical, instrumentation and gasses to support large systems.

Chamber A was upgraded to support the James Webb Space Telescope test program. Additions involved an ultra-clean hydrocarbon-free high vacuum pumping systems and the ability to simulate the extremely low temperatures of deep space (35K) within a 45 foot diameter by 80 foot tall shroud volume. The chamber systems are now able to maintain class 10,000 clean room conditions for ambient operations.

Image Credit: NASA/JSC/Robert Markowitz

Image Date: Aug. 7, 2023

#NASA #Space #Astronomy #Science #Earth #SpaceSimulation #Laboratory #ThermalVacuumChamber #NASAJohnson #JSC #Houston #Texas #UnitedStates #ApolloProgram #SpaceShuttleProgram #STS #JWST #SpaceTelescopes #History #Photography #STEM #Education

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