M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentArcos Yoel
SubjectOptimized Design of a Thermal Vacuum Testbed for
Nanosatellite Verification Tests
DepartmentDepartment of Aerospace Engineering
Supervisor PROF. Pinchas Gurfil
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Before launching any satellite into orbit, a verification test procedure is required, with one of the critical environmental tests being the thermal vacuum (TV) test. However, many low-budget nanosatellite projects, mostly led by universities, decide to spare the expenses of this high cost testing procedure. Others may perform the test using superfluous infrastructure, with a testing process unsuited specifically for nanosatellites. In this thesis, guidelines for designing a designated TV chamber for nanosatellites will be given, so that a low-cost test infrastructure could be constructed and allow the performance of qualification and acceptance tests of nanosatellites.

The common standards for TV testing procedure are reviewed and compared. Then, the thermal behaviour of a typical nanosatellite is examined using a thermal analysis. With the established thermal conditions of a nanosatellite, a thermal analysis of a TV chamber is used to compare different methods of maintaining the nanosatellite in these conditions.

It is further shown that the temperature regime of an orbiting nanosatellite is relatively small, and is easy to emulate in a test facility. For their small size and limited temperature range, nanosatellites can be tested at a system level in a conduction-based facility - reducing the required infrastructure cost significantly in comparison to a radiation-based facility. The results show that a Ø0.6 m x 0.5 m TV chamber based on a conduction cold plate, with a temperature range of -25°C to °C is suited for the verification testing of a 6U nanosatellite, and/or one of its sub-systems. Due to its restricted temperature range, several low-cost commercial coolants may be used in the TV chamber thermal control system, such as propylene glycol water or ethylene glycol water.