Satellite undergoes extreme testing

Feb. 8, 2013 at 5:44 PM
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TOULOUSE, France, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Europe's largest telecom satellite has successfully faced a test recreating conditions it will deal with when it is launched this summer, scientists say.

The Alphasat has been locked in a vacuum chamber in Toulouse, France, for several months in simulated conditions close to what it will experience in flight, being put through its paces to ensure all its systems can run under the extreme cold and hot conditions, the European Space Agency said Friday.

"If you were going to test a new car for extreme conditions, you would probably want to do the same thing: not only check the heating and air conditioning, but also make sure that the engine, brakes, ignition and radio work in low temperatures as well as high," Philippe Sivac, ESA's Alphasat acting project manager, said.

The testing was conducted in a vacuum chamber that measures more than 30 feet long and 26 feet wide.

All satellites face similar testing before they are qualified for launch; such tests usually it takes about a month, but Alphasat is not quite like other telecom satellites, the scientists said.

"The complexity of the payload, the number of redundancies and configurations to test and customer specific requirements required testing to exceed two months," Sivac said.

"Finally, the performance and functional tests show that all the electronics and software perform as expected even at extreme temperatures."

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