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AIT Center: China's new aerospace hub


09-14-2016 14:43 BJT

In the coming days China's latest space laboratory, the Tiangong-2, will be launched. CCTV's reporter Ning Hong paid a visit to China’s newly constructed space industrial infrastructure, the AIT Center for large spacecrafts, in Tianjin.

The Tianjin AIT Center is known as the hub of China's spacecraft development. It is a place for the Assembly, Integration and Testing of spacecrafts. It is composed of world-class facilities such as the KM8 Space Environment Simulator and the 140-ton force vibrator. The KM8 is the largest and most advanced thermal vacuum chamber in China, and the third largest of its kind in the world.

"The KM8 is the core facility of the AIT center. It can generate the vacuum and icy grip of outer space here on earth. In the future, China’s large spacecrafts will be tested here before they are launched into space. And this represents the top technology of China’s space industry," Ning Hong said.

The simulator is 35 meters high and 17 meters in diameter, it aims to recreate the same harsh environment of outer space. Many technical breakthroughs have been made here.

Ru Xiaoqin is the general technical director of the KM8 simulator - and she's been part of the project since its beginning.

"It has a super large and hollow flange made of stainless steel to ensure it is airtight while reducing its weight and cost. And, we're also able to create a high vacuum that is 10 to minus-6 Pascals, which is used to simulate the high-vacuum environment found in outer space,” Ru said.

Apart from the design and manufacturing level, an integrated control system is also being used in the KM8. Almost all of the operation can be done within this control panel. It is also connected to the headquarters of the Beijing Institute of Spacecraft Environment Engineering.

Inside the dynamic test lab, a new vibration test system is now in use. This is a state of the art electric driven vibration test facility with the largest electrical-driven force in the world.

“The testing ability of this equipment, the level of its performance, and the technology and test mode behind it all lead the world for these types of technologies.” said Li Xingming, tech & implementation director of Tianjin AIT center.

China has complete IP rights on both the KM8 Space Environment Simulator and the vibration testing facility. Other facilities in the AIT center include a large acoustic chamber, and modal test system, assembly workshop and so on. The AIT center aims to become a world-class space complex and the birthplace of China’s future big space crafts.

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