[simpits-chat] Advance Space Propulsion Lab

Brian Sikkema simpits-chat@simpits.org
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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