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ORIX Rentec begins rental of compact thermal vacuum test equipment: Recreates conditions in space with an eye on small satellite development


ORIX Rentec Corporation (President: Nobuhisa Hosokawa) started a service in December last year to rent out a set of compact thermal vacuum testing equipment, developed in cooperation with equipment manufacturers in response to customer feedback. Using this, temperature endurance tests of components for small satellites for use in space can be conducted in a laboratory. The equipment can be rented for as short a period as five days. It consists of a compact vacuum test device and a high‐performance temperature controller, with rental fees of JPY 840,000 and JPY 592,900 (both excluding tax) for five days, respectively.

Compact thermal vacuum test equipment (right), high‐performance temperature Controller (left)

This type of equipment is used to test the durability and other properties of components used in extreme environments such as space. The device creates a vacuum in its 650 mm diameter chamber and can, for example, reproduce the highly variable temperature conditions of space.

The improved performance and expanded applications of small and nanosatellites has led to an increasing number of universities and venture companies entering satellite development. Interviews with a wide range of ORIX Rentec's users about their requirements for research equipment revealed that there is a high demand, including from venture companies, for thermal vacuum test equipment that is compact and more easily transportable than conventional equipment, for the purpose of developing small satellites. Conventional systems are large, measuring six to seven meters in size, and use liquid nitrogen as a cooling source, so it was necessary to provide space for storage tanks.

ORIX Rentec received an introduction from a client of a major satellite manufacturer and started consulting with Vacuum Products, which has a proven track record in manufacturing various vacuum devices, from 2020. They compiled user requests and received a request to develop a product.

During the development process, they conducted interviews with about 20 venture companies, and determined specifications through trial and error, including the size of the chamber. They incorporated several user opinions, such as the product having dimensions to allow it fit into a standard lift.

The compact equipment they developed controls the temperature by pumping out air in the chamber, creating a vacuum, and then allowing antifreeze to flow from a high‐performance temperature control unit. Vacuum and temperature control can be easily achieved via the control panel.

The external dimensions of the compact vacuum test chamber (manufactured by Vacuum Products) are 900 mm (W) x 1270 mm (D) x 1982 mm (H). The external dimensions of the high‐performance temperature control unit (HUBER) are 540 mm (width) x 654 mm (depth) x 1735 mm (height).

No other rental service offers equipment that can easily reproduce the environment of space a compact size, and ORIX Rentec has already received promising enquiries from several companies. The company will continue to actively incorporate user opinions and contribute to the construction of the optimum research environment for each user, including universities and ventures.

Contact: Contracting Services Department, ORIX Rentec Corporation, Tel: 03‐3473‐8421. (Japan)

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. ( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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