A Pilsen company manufactures equipment for the European Space Agency, the chamber simulates the space environment | News | Pilsen Gossip

A Pilsen company manufactures equipment for the European Space Agency, the chamber simulates the space environment | News | Pilsen Gossip
A Pilsen company manufactures equipment for the European Space Agency, the chamber simulates the space environment | News | Pilsen Gossip

The prestigious contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) was won by the Pilsen company STREICHER, which specializes in the development and production of vacuum equipment. During April, the agency will deliver a special chamber for simulating the space environment to its laboratories. In the same month, he will hand over another, significantly larger chamber to the international laser research center ELI Beamlines in Dolní Břežany.

“The space industry is one of the areas for which our vacuum equipment is designed. We therefore greatly appreciate the opportunity to work for the international agency ESA. This is the first project that ESA has approached us with,” says the manager of the engineering division of STREICHER Plzeň George Shovel.

This is a chamber in which researchers will be able to carry out testing and screening of parts intended for satellites, for example on the effect of the space environment on the given materials. The chamber has the shape of a hexagon with a diameter of 43 centimeters and a height of 35 centimeters.

“Although we usually manufacture chambers as welded assemblies, this one was machined from a single piece of stainless steel due to the small size required,” warns the head of the construction department Emil Black. “A so-called breadboard is placed at the bottom of the chamber. It is made of aluminum and connected for cooling. Thanks to the system of channels through which it is woven, it provides cooling of the chamber up to -180°C using liquid nitrogen. At the same time, we integrated electric heaters capable of baking the chamber up to a temperature of 200°C,” describes Černý.

This is because parts for space bodies can withstand significant temperature fluctuations. Maintaining a homogeneous temperature inside the chamber is ensured by stainless steel radiation shields, which prevent the chamber from absorbing heat and dissipating it outside.

The work takes place in a completely clean environment

Due to the required cleanliness, the chamber was first mechanically and then electrolytically polished. Assembly of components is done in very clean premises of the company, which meet the requirements of the strictest standards, which specify air cleanliness classes in terms of particle concentration and also contamination with chemical substances, mainly hydrocarbons.

In April, Streicher will also ship the multiply larger ELIAS vaporization vacuum chamber for the ELI Beamlines laser research center in Dolní Břežany for the European ERIC consortium there. The stainless steel chamber weighs 12 tons and is designed to vaporize thin layers onto large optical elements of high-intensity lasers. “We developed the chamber with an American company, which supplied the main part of the technology for vaporization of ultra-thin layers, and with the ELI Beamlines center, which will use the chamber,” said Black.

The volume of the chamber is 15 cubic meters. Inside is a protective shield made of stainless steel sheets, which protects the walls during coating. Thanks to the cooling channel, a constant temperature of several hundred degrees Celsius is maintained there.

Operating for more than 30 years, STREICHER s.r.o. Plzeň is a member of the multinational group of the same name, headquartered in Deggendorf, which employs 4,500 people. In addition to the engineering division with its own development, it also has 100 people in the construction division in Štěnovice. Since 1994, Streicher has been providing practical teaching for pupils and students of schools, secondary and technical colleges.

The article is in Czech


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