NTS Test Lab in Los Angles Adds More Thermal Vacuum Chambers to Expand Role in Race to Space

Testing, inspection, and certification solutions specialist NTS announced that its laboratory in Los Angeles, Calif., has substantially expanded its Thermal Vacuum (TVAC) testing capabilities, further solidifying the company’s position in space qualification testing. The NTS lab secured two additional TVAC Chambers and completed a series of upgrades to increase the lab’s overall capacity to provide customers with rapid scheduling options. The company says the upgraded TVAC testing capability is critical for helping their customers in the new Race to Space.

Thermal vacuum testing is an essential aspect of qualification testing for space flight components, sub-assemblies, and mission-critical equipment. TVAC testing simulates upper atmosphere conditions of space including temperature and altitude by removing air and pressure while cycling very high and very low temperatures. In addition to testing sub-assemblies and mission-critical equipment, thermal vacuum chambers are also used for evaluating seals and rings, High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) programs, vacuum bakeout testing, and any program that requires a sterilized test environment. Each function is critical testing for identifying design issues before components are integrated into larger systems.

As the Race to Space intensifies, demand for thermal vacuum chambers is steadily increasing, accordign to NTS. This is what prompted the NTS Los Angeles lab to enhance capabilities. The added TV-5 and TV-10 chambers brings its total number of thermal vacuum chambers to eight. These two additional chambers give the ability to meet demanding scheduling needs more easily.

Key features of the TV-5 are as follows:

  • Size: 25” Diameter, 28” Long
  • Integral Rough Pump and Cryogenic Pump, Vacuum Level 10-6 Torr
  • Two heating/cooling zones, each 18”X24” (+200°C/-180°C)
  • Sixty data channels (expandable)
  • TQCM compatible

The TV-10 offers the following:

  • Size: 5.5’ Diameter, 10’ Long
  • Integral Rough Pump, Tubromolecular Pump and Cryogenic Pump, Vacuum Level 10-6 Torr
  • 4’ X 8’ X 6 Layer Bake-Out Rack (up to +200°C)
  • Two control zones with up to eight 3’ X 4” heating/cooling panels (+200°C/-180°C)
  • Sixty data channels (expandable)
  • Numerous feed throughs (DB-25, Douglas 24255, others as required)

NTS says they have more TVAC test capabilities than any other third-party lab in North America making them a sought after source for Space Testing. Most of the NTS thermal vacuum capabilities can be found at the NTS Los Angeles laboratory, which is home to a TV-25. NTS built the TV-25 (25 feet long by 15 feet deep) thermal vacuum in Los Angeles for client-spaceflight hardware. The facility contains one control room, two client rooms, a three-ton crane within a class 100,000 Clean Room, two gowning areas, and two uninterruptible power sources connected to an automatically engaged backup generator complete the highly specialized testing area.

Testing components for space applications requires extreme temperatures, higher pressures, lower vacuum levels, and more drastic environmental simulation. “The NTS Los Angeles Lab is a highly specialized lab that leverages a unique blend of expert engineering and customized facilities to meet these extreme testing challenges,” said Charles Diemen, general manager at NTS, Los Angeles. “Our investment demonstrates this continued commitment to NTS customers to ensure the best test experience possible.”

NTS has qualified components for nearly every space launch platform including the Space Shuttle, Atlas, Delta IV, and Space Launch System (SLS). This rich history highlights the undisputed industry leadership of NTS in performing extreme, complex testing on assemblies utilizing robust, high output test systems. As a winner of the 2019 NASA Space Award—and with a multi-decade history in extreme environmental and dynamics testing—NTS is the world’s most trusted test lab for space testing.