Herschel moves to the Large Space Simulator
10 November 2008The Herschel spacecraft is now installed in the Large Space Simulator (LSS) at ESTEC ready for thermal balance and thermal vacuum tests. This is the final system test in the environmental test campaign series.
On Monday 27 October the Herschel spacecraft flight model was transferred from the HYDRA facility - where it has been subjected to functional testing and cryostat filling operations - into the clean room next to the LSS.
The next day the 3.5 tonne spacecraft was raised into position above the LSS using the custom-built three-prong lifting frame. Herschel's large size made manoeuvring the spacecraft a challenging operation with clearances of only a few centimetres in some cases.
Once in position the spacecraft was carefully lowered into place in front of the custom-build radiator which simulates the thermal radiation of the Sun onto the large solar array and the sunshield, similar to the conditions at L2 – the operational orbit for Herschel.
Final preparations are now underway for the thermal balance and thermal vacuum tests which are due to begin on 11 November.
During these tests the second system operations verification test (SOVT-2) will take place. This will include 5 days of operations of the spacecraft from the mission control center in ESOC mostly filled with operational tests of all the Herschel instruments.
The thermal balance and thermal vacuum tests are expected to continue until 10 December.