[simpits-chat] Advance Space Propulsion Lab

Rob Hommel simpits-chat@simpits.org
Thu, 27 Feb 2003 23:12:04 -0800

What kind of pumping are you doing just standard mechanical pumping or are
you getting down to the point where you are having to get in things like
titanium getters and such. I have worked with vacuum chambers getting as low
as neg 10 Torr and slightly less in the past. From the sounds of the size
and the amount of time you may be able to get a low as perhaps a neg. 3 torr
at best. We were often having to go into the lab at 5AM to start the rough
mechanical stuff then by noon start the titanium deposition pumps so that
testing could run from 3 in the afternoon until 7 in the evening. Oh and I
forgot to include the gas flushes that were needed as well. Removing Argon
from a vacuum is a real pain to say the least. Targeting nitrogen and oxygen
atoms was something that  only the most skilled scientific marksman should
ever try and do. Then try and measure them, their spin the amount of
electron volts produced in the collision etc. It has been a long time and
you know something I miss it all. And they say science isn't work. Keep in
mind the vacuum chamber I was working with was roughly a cylinder about 24
inches tall and having a 20 in diameter. For those of you who have never
worked around vacuum equipment it is a fascinating branch of science. Second
only to electronics in the number of practical purposes.

Keep 'em Flying
Rob Hommel
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brian Sikkema" <hangr18@hotmail.com>
To: <simpits-chat@simpits.org>
Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2003 7:47 PM
Subject: Re: [simpits-chat] Advance Space Propulsion Lab

> >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
> 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
> 9M long, roughly. HUGE. I got to tour their facility last October, which
> 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
> tested in it at one time.
> Brian
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