Brazilian Amazonia-1 satellite placed into orbit after being tested in the most advanced Space Simulation Chamber in the Southern Hemisphere, built by Telstar

The Brazilian National Space Agency INPE (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais) has placed into orbit Amazônia-1 or SSR-1, the first Earth observation satellite developed by Brazil launched at 04:54:00 UTC on 28 February 2021. The company express its pride in this milestone while feeling part of this great challenge when the satellite has been tested in the most advanced space simulation chamber in the Southern Hemisphere, built by Telstar.

Carried out under the direction of INPE, a space research center under the administration of the Ministry of Science and Technology in Brazil, Telstar designed and developed the most advanced Space Simulation Chamber in the Southern Hemisphere to enable trials of complete satellites to be carried out here on Earth under thermal and vacuum conditions equivalent to those that the satellite should experience once it is in orbit around the Earth. The test facility had to enable simulation of the extreme temperatures experienced in space to test the operation of the various subsystems of the satellite as well as the possible degradation of the materials in the environment of space.

The space simulation chamber that Telstar built for INPE is in the shape of a tunnel or a ’mailbox‘, with internal measurements of 7m in width, 8.5m in height and 9m in depth with a total internal volume of 485 m3.  Its main functional characteristics are an ultimate vacuum level of 1×10-7 mbar and the temperature control range from -180ºC to +150ºC, working with nitrogen gas in the thermal panels (shrouds), or down to -196ºC when flooding the shrouds with liquid nitrogen.  The test facility data acquisition system offers 1500 channels for the recording and analysis of the experimental data.

On the 12th of September 2008, chamber operational and acceptance testing was successfully concluded in Brazil.  Thirteen years later, Amazonia-1 satellite has been successfully put into orbit.

Space conditions

In space, far away from the terrestrial surface, the pressure is around 1×10-13 mbar and the temperature to which the satellite will be submitted (depending on whether it is receiving direct solar radiation) can vary between 650K (377ºC) and 4K (-269ºC).  Direct solar radiation can be considered constant, but the radiation from the Earth and reflected energy from the Sun vary, dependent upon the meteorological conditions as well as the position and height above the surface.  In addition to this visible and infrared radiation there is also presence of electromagnetic radiation and various particles with a range of intensity and velocity.

These environmental conditions are so complex and variable that their simulation on Earth is technologically unfeasible, therefore less sophisticated space simulation chambers usually limit tests to vacuum conditions of the order of 1×10-5 mbar, and those of temperature in a range from -100ºC to +70ºC.  The simulator developed by Telstar reaches vacuum values of the order of 1×10-7mbar and temperatures of -196ºC to +150ºC, far beyond than the majority of conventional systems.

The National Institute for Space Research (INPE), linked to the Ministry of Science and Technology, aims to produce science and technology in space and the terrestrial environment, and offer innovative products and services in benefit of Brazil.

As executor of the projects of the Brazilian Space Program, INPE has also been an important vector for the modernization of industry, whose performance is giving the country a prominent place in the international space scene.