in Space

PPM Power provides power units for RAL Space satellite test chamber

Posted 20 July 2023

PPM Power has been chosen to provide RAL Space with compact power units for heaters in its new thermal vacuum chamber for testing satellites.

Above: Large Space Test Chamber in the National Satellite Test Facility.
Courtesy PPM Power / STFC RAL Space

RAL Space is the UK’s national space laboratory and an integral part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Its aim is to advance the understanding of space and the environment for everyone’s benefit. In support of this work, RAL Space has introduced a new thermal vacuum chamber for testing satellites – the largest in the UK.

The bespoke vacuum chamber is part of RAL Space’s National Satellite Test Facility, which is the first of its kind in the UK to enable larger and more complex spacecraft to be tested.

It will be used to simulate the extreme vacuum and thermal conditions encountered in space, and consists of a 7m x 12m cylindrical vacuum vessel lined with temperature-controlled panels.

PPM Power, a UK specialist distributor of components and systems for high voltage, pulsed power and power electronics, was chosen to provide RAL Space with compact power units for the chamber’s heaters. As the space for instrumentation was strictly limited, the advanced design of the chosen TDK-Lambda UK Genesys+ half-rack power supplies enabled all 140 required units to fit into the available volume within the chamber. The programmable units are half the size of traditional single-rack power supplies.

PPM additionally provided specialist support so that the units may be recessed and angled to allow even tighter placement within the chamber’s setup. The high-density units also provide RAL Space with the benefit of being highly reliable and coming with a long five-year warranty.

“We are delighted to be providing a compact bespoke solution on this exciting project,” said David Thornton, PPM Power Business Development Manager.

Thornton also noted PPM worked closely with power supply manufacturer, TDK-Lambda UK, to deliver the demanding project on time.

The power supplies were specified and procured for RAL Space by teams at STFC’s Technology Department, who were also responsible for executing the design, construction and commissioning of the vacuum heater control systems.

When fully completed, the National Satellite Test Facility will provide the UK space sector with all the major testing facilities they need under one roof.



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