Subject Area Space Technology

Laboratories and Facilities


The department has several (thermal) vacuum chambers of various sizes and properties
at its disposal in the space technology laboratories and workshops.

Small Vacuum Chamber HV100

The smallest vacuum chamber in the Department of Astronautics is mainly used to determine the thermal behavior or thermal equilibrium of individual assemblies of space systems or even small systems such as CubeSats.

Different pressure and temperature states, processes and cycles
can also be displayed.

Technical Data

  • Temperature range from -10°C to +80°C
  • High vacuum at < 1x10-5 mbar (0,001 Pa)
  • Volume: 0,1 m3
    • Usable diameter: 400 mm
    • Diameter with cooling plate: 325 mm
    • Usable length ca. 500 mm
  • Sight glass with 100mm diameter
  • Data acquisition using Keithley DAQ6510 multimeter
    with 40 available channels

Thermal Vacuum Chamber HV2200

The HV2200 thermal vacuum chamber is used for testing various technological components under space conditions.

The chamber has a sun simulator which enables qualification under solar radiation.

Technical Data

  • Temperature range from -190°C to +20°C can be displayed (liquid nitrogen cooling)
  • Highest vacuum < 1x10-5 mbar (0,001 Pa)
  • Volume: 2.2 m3
    • Usable diameter 1200 mm
    • Usable diameter with cold wall (Shroud) 810 mm
    • Length 1500 mm
  • 0.5 - 2.5 times solar constant adjustable
    (Xenon high-pressure lamp with unfiltered spectrum).
    • Beam diameter 300 mm
  • Data acquisition using Keithley DAQ6510 with 60 usable channels

Planetary Simulation Chamber

The Planetary Simulation Chamber, is a thermal vacuum chamber modified for surface simulation of planets and moons.

For this purpose, in addition to mapping various pressure and temperature parameters and cycles, it has a device for holding a block of ice, internal dimmable LEDs, and a measuring device for recording the temperature distribution within the block.
The chamber also has a powerful pump to enable melting and evaporation experiments in the low-pressure range below sublimation pressure.

It contributes to research projects around the icy moons of our solar system, which is one of the main topics of the department.

Technical Data

  • Temperature range from -160°C to +20°C can be displayed (liquid nitrogen cooling)
    • Minimum temperatures for ice -160°C
  • Vacuum conditions
    • 0.2 mbar without gas ballast
    • 1.0 to 2.0 mbar for sublimating water
    • 640 m3/h Volume flow with evacuation of steam
  • Pressure/temperature cycles between 5 minutes and 1 day period duration
  • Volume: 3,34 m3
    • Usable diameter 1000 mm
    • Usable height 2125 mm
    • Payload up to 500 kg
  • Possibility to integrate ice blocks as a base
  • Different exposure states with the help of adjustable LED lights
  • Melting and contamination tests possible
  • Optical observation by means of
    • InfraTec VarioCAM HD (infrared camera)
    • Teledyne DALS Genie HC1024 (117 fps visible light spectrum camera)
  • Data acquisition by means of experiment server with up to 76 usable channels

Laboratory for spacecraft propulsion

The Spacecraft Propulsion Laboratory focuses on the behavior and optimization of chemical propulsion
for space systems using established and new propellants.

Focal points of the laboratory's work are:

  • Flow separation and shock wave pattern in conical cold gas nozzles
  • Optimization of overexpanded rocket nozzles, accompanied by CFD simulation of the nozzle flow with Ansys/Fluent
  • Subscale rocket combustion chamber test stand for cold gas engines
  • Investigation of injection concepts with regard to mixture preparation and degree of burnout for "green propellant" fuels (in preparation)

Head of Laboratory:
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Esch

Laboratory Equipment

Technical Data Spacecraft Propulsion Laboratory

  • Cold gas test stand for gaseous nitrogen
    • Thrust measurement equipment
    • High speed camera
    • Online display of up to 8 measured or calculated variables
    • Flow measurement device
  • Burner test rig for diergole fuel combinations
    • especially Green Propellant with GOX
    • in Preparation
  • Exhaust line for HC, CO, NOx, CO2, O2
    • Flow measurement device

Satellite Ground Station

As a satellite ground station of the FH Aachen UAS, the "FH Aachen Space Operations Facility" (FHASOF) makes it possible to send commands to satellites and receive data from them using an antenna system. Every year, students perform hundreds of satellite overflights and analyze data received from amateur radio satellites, from weather satellites and also from the International Space Station (ISS). During each satellite overflight, operators operate the antenna and radio and record the telemetry data. The ground station is always kept up to date with the latest technology and adapted for new missions.

Technical Data

  • 70cm-Band:
    • 4x RHCP Kreuzyagi-Antenna (je 2x19 Elements, total strength: 25dBi)
  • 2m-Band:
    • 2x RHCP Kreuzyagi-Antenna (je 2x9 Elements, total strength: 20dBi)
  • 1x Helix-Antenna
  • RTL SDR (Software Defined Radio)
  • ICOM IC 910-H
  • ICOM IC 9700

Vibration and Load Testing

Various load and vibration tests and analyses can be carried out at the department. and vibration analyses can be carried out.

For this purpose, the department has shakers as well as force test benches in the vibration laboratory.

For space technology at the UAS, an electrodynamic vibration exciter from the company LDS is mostly used. The shaker can display sinusoidal vibrations, broadband noise and shock loads for payloads up to 100 kg.

Electronic and mechanical subassemblies such as instruments, satellite components, computer equipment and structural parts can be tested.

Technical Data

  • Payload up to 100 kg
  • Maximum nominal force 5.12 kN
  • Frequency range 0-4000 Hz
  • Maximum acceleration 500 m/s2
  • Maximum deflection 25.4 mm or 1 inch