Our Facilities

SPL general facility

SPL consists of an engineering department, a small test facility and an assembly building, located at Langenthal. This town is placed between Zurich and Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Our main Sponsor, ARO TECHNOLOGIES, provides SPL with a large floor space for research, development and testing. The office, the material test field, the electrical/electronical/ - workshop and the high vacuum chamber are located  on the second floor of  the ARO Technologies production building. This facility has approximately 250 square meters. The ground floor houses the mechanic workshops (equipped with N/C lathes, TIG-welding equipment, welding robot, cutting and drilling equipment, N/C milling-, surface grinding-, cylindrical-grinding-machine,  etc.).

On the second floor the major SPL systems testing and measurement equipment is installed. The following ae some examples of the equipment:
IR-spectro-photometer, Perkin Elmer Scanning Electron-Microscope, Phillips
High vacuum chamber, ARO Technologies / Edwards Far Infrared highspeed (50 frames/s) Imaging System 8..14 µm (MCT), high resolution with a germanium zoom lens
Electronic measurements systems, Tektronix / HP / etc. Gas analyzer, ARO Technologies

On the first sub floor of the same building the large vacuum (600 Pa) chamber is located.  This system offers the opportunity to test small motors  under low pressure conditions. It has approximately 15 square meters floor space and a volume of 40 cubic meters:

Vacuum chamber

Close to the main building, at a separate test location, SPL has a facility to test gas generator chambers, turbines, and in a later phase turbo pumps. The building, named LHFF (Low Heat Flux Facility) has three different cells. In the first section the whole control and measurement equipment is located. In the second section the Super Flow dyno bench is installed. SPL will mount an additional reduction gear, so that turbines with RPM up to 30´000 and power levels up to 1000 kW can be measured.  The last part contains equipment which is necessary to handle all liquids and gases required for testing. The whole building is sponsored by the Swiss Motor Engineering (who used it in the past to test I.C.-engines):

LHFF building

The largest SPL facility is located 80 m on the left side of ARO's main building. That building will be used as a rocket motor integration facility. SPL is using the same facility for assembly, system integration and testing of all major vehicles, payloads and large equipment.

ASIT ( assembly, system integration and testing)  building

On the left side of the ASIT-entrance SPL builds up an outdoor-teststand for static firing of engines in the range up to 5 kN. To reduce environmental impact and to increase the security SPL will take precautions, namely

- Noise reduction and plume-supression with a heavy steel tunnel and water injection.
- Any leaks of liquids are collected in a special drain and will processed in an ARO-wastewater-treatment.

- For fire protection, a water deluge system can flood the whole test stand.

- In case of any disintegrations, energy-absorbing panels will shield against shrapnel.

The launch area will be outside of Switzerland in order to guarantee the necessary safety distance to populated areas. The SPL's strategies and relationships to other organizations will be helpful to find an acceptable launch area.

In order to achieve its objectives, SPL will involve external facilities and will also invite other organisations to participate. The development of components is planned to be a joint effort between SPL, interested universities, graduate schools and the precision industry in Switzerland. This, of course, requires a lot of coordination between the involved participants. SPL will provide the educational institutes with specific, detailed technical problems and give them the opportunity to get involved in real "applied science" in the area of space technology.

100 kN Thrust Test Stand
Go to a page with more infos about the Test Stand
To test and characterize engines, fuels etc. a thrust test stand is essential. In the frame of an exhibition of the Space forum 2001 (27. January) held by the Swiss Astronautics Association, we presented our new test stand. 
With this test stand both liquid engines as well as solid propellant motors with thrust up to 100 kN (10 tons) can be tested.  The measuring table is mounted on 8 hysteresis free "Flex"-joints (with integrated safety stop extensions). The table is made of aluminum and has many integrated "T" grooves for easy mounting of different kind of engines, valves and other equipment. The load cells can be exchanged to the respective measuring range.  At the moment, a load cell for max. 25 kN is installed.  The heavy steel frame is additionally filled with concrete to suppress possible oscillations. The photo shows the test stand with the "TETHIS-I" 8 kN solid booster.
Click on the picture to get a more detailed description. 
The orange container houses the sound absorbing device. The grey container with the fan is the actual test cell. In the background the control room which contains the data aquisition. You can see the live weather data from our weathe rstation at the test facility here.
The rocket engine to be tested is built up on the table of the test bench.
It fires into an extension tubus of the absorber tunnel.
The test bench is bolted to a concrete block which is in turn connected to a 30 tons foundation plate.
The total mass of the test stand cell and the sound absorbing tunnel amounts to more than 100 tons!
The current development status permits testing engines with a thrust of up to 30 kN.
By prolongation of the sound
absorbing tunnel and a slight upgrade of the test bench the range can be enlarged to approx. 120 kN.