ECAPS / Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) develop, among other things, rocket engines that are used in various spacecraft. Some engines are as small as eggcups, others big as buckets, but what they all have in common is that they must be tested before they are sent into space, in conditions that are as realistic as possible. Space-like conditions in terms of vacuum, temperature, strain, et cetera, must be replicated. When Sjöland&Thyselius/STARCS were commissioned with delivering a turnkey test facility for ECAPS/SSC, a partnership with Svekon was initiated.
In order for the aerodynamic tests to be conducted, the test facility had to be built from scratch, so that the most authentic test environment possible could be created. The work included design, construction, measuring and control systems, as well as all other forms of soft- and hardware. S&T/STARCS were in charge of the overall design, including flow calculations as well as measuring and control systems. Svekon contributed all of the design blueprints for the facility’s hardware.
The result was a facility approximately 26 ft. in length, including vacuum pumping and liquid cooling systems. It is the only facility of its kind for testing rocket engines with environmentally friendly fuel. Minimal emissions, together with the type of fuel used, are what makes it environmentally friendly.
All the development work took place in close consultation with ECAPS/SSC, and the project has gone according to plan. The end customer is very satisfied with the delivery, performance and cost, and believes it to be a state of the art facility.
“We are very happy with Svekon’s contribution to the delivery,” says CEO of S&T/STARCS, Mikael Tjernlund.
“STARCS (Sjöland&Thyselius Group) has developed and delivered a test chamber and ejector pump system for testing of rocket engines in space conditions. The ECAPS new “near vacuum” rocket engine test stand (TS-2) was successfully acceptance tested during the end of May 2011. The acceptance test was performed by firing a 5N and a 22 N HPGP thruster. Exceptionally “near vacuum” conditions was demonstrated, < 0.5 mbar during continuous firing. This unique facility is the only known “Green Rocket Test Facility” for storable propellants, a minimum of emissions makes it environmentally benign. The operations of the facility are very cost-effective and are performed to a fraction of the cost for rocket testing at DLR/Astrium, Aerojet and AMPAC. During fall 2011 the 50 N ACE (Advanced Concept Engine) thruster was successfully test fired in the new facility. The 50 N thruster was fired both in continuous and pulse mode and demonstrated record high specific impulse for a storable monopropellant thruster.”