Lab Renovations Help Ensure Mission Success

Corporate Staff
posted July 10, 2013

Aerospace’s laboratories have undergone a $12 million renovation to add a variety of new capabilities that will allow Aerospace to better support its customers.

About 20,000 square feet were renovated from February 2010 to September 2012. Yet to come is a Propulsion Research Facility, scheduled for construction in FY14.

The new and improved labs will support the effective and timely development and operation of national security systems through scientific research and the application of advanced technology.

The renovations provide better facilities for research in the areas of electronics and photonics, space materials, and space science applications.

High-performance autoclave in the Advanced Composites Laboratory used for the fabrication of advanced component material test articles. (Photo: Eric Hamburg/The Aerospace Corporation)

High-performance autoclave in the Advanced Composites Laboratory used for the fabrication of advanced component material test articles. (Photo: Eric Hamburg/The Aerospace Corporation)

The new Battery and Solar Cell Laboratory contains state-of-the-art and custom-made testing, evaluation, and destructive physical analysis tools that allow Aerospace experts to accurately characterize the performance of batteries and solar cells, determine degradation modes and rates, and model their on-orbit performance.

Manuel Acosta setting up a CubeSat for launch vibration loads testing in the Fluid Mechanics Lab. (Photo: The Aerospace Corporation/Eric Hamburg)

Manuel Acosta setting up a CubeSat for launch vibration loads testing in the Fluid Mechanics Lab. (Photo: Eric Hamburg/The Aerospace Corporation)

The new Solid Mechanics Lab contains all of the test and fabrication facilities necessary to develop future picosatellites.

The capabilities of the new Advanced Composites Laboratory are centered on a high-performance Autoclave system, which allows Aerospace material scientists to work with advanced composite material systems including nano-materials.

The Nanostructured Materials Characterization and Contamination Mitigation Lab adds new capabilities for the synthesis and characterization of nanostructured materials.

Construction Quandries

Do you know what goes into the design and construction of a laboratory — and an occupied laboratory at that? The design, construction, and laboratory staff had to all work together to tackle some interesting challenges, such as…

  • Designing and building a room to isolate noise-generating equipment from adjacent sound- and vibration-sensitive equipment
  • Installing new liquid and gaseous nitrogen, compressed air, cooling water, and electrical systems while maintaining existing lab operations
  • Finding a location to install massive air conditioning and dehumidification equipment for a high heat load battery lab and a one-percent humidity dry room
  • Replacing a leaky roof while maintaining clean room operations below

And you thought remodeling your kitchen was hard!

The Microelectronics Reliability and Radiation Effects Lab includes three class-four laser bays, two non-laser labs and two sample preparation areas. This lab will allow increased space for characterization of the performance, reliability, and susceptibility to space radiation effects of advanced microelectronic and optoelectronic devices.

The High-Power Laser Lab adds new capabilities for development of high-power lasers at near-infrared to mid-infrared wavelengths, and laser applications such as LIDAR, active remote sensing, sensor calibration, and laser communications.

The Optical Measurements Lab enhances Aerospace’s capabilities in the areas of optical thin film, optical element, and optical system characterization. Light-matter interactions are exploited to learn about the device under test.

The Electronic Materials and Devices Nanoanalysis Lab provides a centralized location for measurement of the physical and chemical properties of electronic materials and devices at the nanoscale. It includes new areas for electron and ion-beam microscopy.

The new Fluid Mechanics Lab provides facilities for investigation of spacecraft and launch-vehicle technologies and anomalies related to fluid mechanics and cryogenics. It also includes a shaker facility for evaluation of shock and vibration issues.

The Materials Nanoanalysis Lab provides a centralized location for the measurement of physical and chemical properties of spacecraft material interfaces at the nanometer scale.

The future Propulsion Research Facility will provide a safe environment for chemical propulsion research, with infrastructure for developing, studying, and evaluating high-energy rocket systems and combustible materials.

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Dr. Hyun Kim using an ultra high vacuum atomic force microscope to evaluate surface properties of nanocomposite materials in the Materials Nanoanalysis Lab. (Photo: The Aerospace Corporation/Eric Hamburg)

Dr. Hyun Kim using an ultra high vacuum atomic force microscope to evaluate surface properties of nanocomposite materials in the Materials Nanoanalysis Lab. (Photo: Eric Hamburg/The Aerospace Corporation)