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Laboratory for Advanced Space Systems at Illinois

Our Laboratory Facilities and Equipment

The laboratory is equipped with a Clean Room, Thermal-Vacuum Chamber, Vacuum Oven, Sun Simulator, Earth Orbital Magnetic Simulator, and a range of mechanical and electrical diagnostic equipment. Multiple forms of rapid prototyping, design, and simulation capabilities are also provided.

Clean Room

LASSI’s clean room provides a pristine environment for spaceflight hardware assembly and test. Filtered air maintains a positive pressure in the room to keep “dirty” air away from the systems being worked on grounded work benches inside the protected environment.

Thermal Vacuum Chamber/Vacuum Oven

The thermal vacuum chamber enables spacecraft and space systems to be tested in a simulated space environment. It is capable of achieving vacuum levels as low as 1e-10 Torr, and a temperature range of +100C. The thermal vacuum chamber is equipped with a residual gas analyzer to assist with determination of outgassing. The vacuum oven is connecter to a roughing pump, and can achieve temperatures as hot as 250C and pressures as low as 400 mTorr. The vacuum oven is used primarily for spacecraft bake-out, but can also be used for adhesive preparation and vacuum curing.

Moment of Inertia Measurement Device

Developed by our students, the Moment of Inertia Measurement Device is capable of determining the inertia about the orthogonal body axes of a satellite or piece of hardware. It optically tracks targets on a plate with a known inertia to calculate the effective balance changes caused by the object being measured.

Center of Gravity Calculation Device

This device calculates the two-dimensional center of gravity of an object placed upon it. It is used typically to find the center of gravity of satellites and their subsystems. By taking three measurements, one for each orthogonal pair of directions, the full 3D location of the center of gravity can be determined.

Sun Simulator

The sun simulator can produce both AM0 and AM1.5 solar spectrum with a 98% accuracy across all wavelengths. Sun intensity is adjustable from about 0.8 to 1.2 AU. Its primary use is to test and calibrate solar panels, but it can be used to test individual solar cells and entire power systems. This equipment is critical in the testing chain for most spacecraft, to ensure that they will generate power in space.

Helmholz Cage

The “HC3” 3-axis Helmholtz cage is capable of reproducing the magnetic field encountered in low earth orbit. It has six magnetic coils attached to a custom, student-designed power supply. This equipment is used for calibration of magnetometers, testing of magnetic torque coils, and all-up attitude determination and control testing. It can be fitted with an air bearing for additional fidelity of motion.

Rapid Prototyping

The lab also provides two forms of rapid prototyping capability: the X-Carve automated CNC machine and a pair of Form 2 SLA printers. These allow students in the lab to construct satellite parts and fixtures for testing.