vacuum system in space simulation cavity

Electric space propulsion systems – because of their active components, i.e. ion thrusters or plasma thrusters – use jet force principles similar to those of traditional rocket systems.

The traditional rocket system must carry a lot of fuel to produce sufficient propulsion, and the electric propulsion system uses the electric field to accelerate the small particles to high speed, and launch them from the propeller at a very high speed. This high discharge rate greatly reduces the amount of fuel required. This characteristic of ion thrusters makes them very suitable for correcting the position of satellites.

Although ion thrusters produce relatively low thrust compared to conventional propulsion systems, they can generate uninterrupted propulsion for several months at a time. Thus, the spacecraft can be accelerated continuously.

Compared with the traditional rocket propulsion system, the ion thruster only works in space or in vacuum.

Therefore, when testing the performance of ion thrusters in the development process, it is necessary to create conditions similar to those in space. This requires a test system capable of producing the same pressure conditions as space. This system must be able to ensure that the thruster can continuously simulate the environment in space when it works under the maximum thrust.


This creates a large volume requirement for the vacuum system:

The test chamber must be large enough to accommodate the thrusters.

The pumping speed of the dry-type front stage pump system must be greater than 450m3 / h, so as to form a front stage vacuum pressure of 1 × 10-2 HPA in ten minutes.

A turbomolecular pump with a pumping speed of about 2900l / S (for nitrogen) and high compression is required as a high vacuum pump system. It must be possible to obtain a final pressure of ≤ 1 × 10-6 HPA in less than three hours.

PLC based controller is needed to control the manual and automatic test of the system.

Vacuum solution:

The vacuum solution is customized to meet the specific needs of this application and meets the established specifications:

A horizontal cylindrical vacuum chamber with a volume of 2m3 is specially designed for this purpose. The vacuum chamber has a glass bead sandblasted interior, which can reduce the degassing rate from the surface, thus obtaining a rapid vacuum pumping capacity. The stainless steel door with quick opening and closing mechanism enables customers to easily access the vacuum chamber. The vacuum chamber is equipped with various flanges, providing customers with a wide choice of connecting additional components. The customer also requires a height adjustment of ± 25 mm for the entire vacuum chamber.


A magnetic suspension turbomolecular pump is selected as a high vacuum pump to ensure that the required vacuum, pumping speed and cleanliness can be obtained. Because of its high reliability, the unlubricated roots pump is used as the front pump.

PLC based controller is installed to operate the whole system. All test steps can be monitored by data visualization, and the controller can save all data recorded in the test process.

Program advantages:

Customized vacuum solution

Based on intelligent controller, it has a series of simulation modes

Dry pump system for maximum cleanliness

High pumping speed ensures the specified vacuum environment is reached in the shortest time

Reduce operating costs by using efficient pumps

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