SSPSF houses two thermal vacuum chambers. The chamber systems consist of cylindrical testing chambers (6 ft. in diameter and 9 ft. long), vacuum systems, liquid nitrogen systems, chilled and domestic water systems, two gas manifold systems, control instrumentation, and data acquisition systems. The radioisotope power system (RPS) is placed inside the chamber, a high vacuum is established (10-6 Torr), and the electrical output is measured. The primary difference between the two chambers is that one is equipped with a cryogenic shroud that simulates the coldness of space (-185 to 120°C).
The thermal vacuum chamber tests are part of several steps in ensuring proper assembly and finished product quality of the RPS. Both thermal vacuum chambers are used to simulate near-earth space vacuum for performance testing of the RPS in support of space missions.
Cylindrical test chambers: 6 ft. diameter, 9 ft. long
High vacuum range: 10-6 Torr
One chamber is equipped with a cryogenic shroud simulating the coldness of space: -185 to 120°C