Ensuring the integrity of spacecraft Components
Specialty gases perform vital functions
A wide range of Linde gases are used to manufacture materials, components and systems for the space industry. Spacecraft components, and even entire spacecraft such as satellites, are tested in thermal vacuum chambers, cooled by liquid nitrogen and helium to simulate the cold temperatures and vacuum of space. Autoclaves pressurized with nitrogen are used to cure fiber composite parts for spacecraft. A wide range of bulk and specialty gases are used to manufacture spacecraft materials, systems, and electronics – for operations such as material processing, heat treating, inerting, laser welding, cleaning, and testing. Linde specialty gases play a critical role in testing, quality control, and space research.
Simulators using industrial gases
An orbiting spacecraft can experience temperature swings from blazing heat to frigid cold. The sudden, repeated heat variations can cause materials of the spacecraft to unevenly expand and contract, potentially leading to fractures over time. Moving parts may also fail. For this purpose, every spacecraft’s range of functionality is tested for weeks or even months in space simulators which achieve a space-like vacuum utilizing Linde gases to simulate the extreme parameter changes that the spacecraft may encounter. Spacecraft that will explore a planetary surface such as Mars go through additional tests with temperatures and atmospheric pressures similar to that on the planet.
Testing for extreme conditions
Once launched, the repair of a satellite becomes much more challenging. Therefore, testing a satellite in a vacuum prior to launch is critical. Without simulation of space conditions prior to launch, space flights would be not possible. Space simulation is, therefore, an important and attractive application of vacuum technology. Tests under vacuum in space simulation chambers are mandatory for all equipment to be used in space.