[simpits-chat] Advance Space Propulsion Lab
Fri, 28 Feb 2003 03:47:04 +0000
>Cooooool.........so the tank is basically a test stand?
Basically. One of the things about ion thrusters is they have to be in
vacuum to even operate. I don't know if I mentioned it on the page or not,
but it takes us on the order of 6 hours to completely pump that tank down to
an acceptable vacuum! It really is one of the largest in the nation, the
only schools I know of for sure that have larger are Princeton, which is
mariginally larger, and UofM, which has a fricking MASSIVE tank. 6M tall by
9M long, roughly. HUGE. I got to tour their facility last October, which was
the first time I had ever seen an ion thruster (one just like the one on
Deep Space One). Theirs doesn't really count, though, because the only
reason they have it was because the building it was in was donated by
Bendix-King aviation, and it cost less to get it working again than it did
to take it out of the building. Their tank was actually used in the Apollo
program for testing large components, and I believe even the lunar rover was
tested in it at one time.
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