Behold! The world's largest vacuum chamber constructed for vehicle testing of the new Orion spacecraft.
Thermal vacuum testing and electromagnetic interference testing will take place in the vacuum chamber. Thermal vacuum testing will confirm that the spacecraft can withstand the extreme hot and cold temperatures present in space, and electromagnetic interference testing will verify the reliability of Orion's communication and electronic systems.
Adjacent to this chamber is an earthquake simulator that will also subject the ship to the violent conditions of liftoff.
The 75,000-pound craft will sit on a huge vibration table; comprising a 125,000-pound mass that must be shaken with an intensity equal to that of a launch.
Twenty-four horns will blow high-pressured nitrogen gas to match the intensity level of the sounds produced during the launch. Most acoustic facilities have around two or three horns. But for this facility, everything is being built bigger in scale to more accurately assess the spacecraft.
In other words, when fully operational, or even when not, these will be two of the most interesting spaces in the world.
If ever Sandusky, Ohio becomes the unlikeliest host to an edition of Postpolis!, this certainly would be the perfect venue. Cut off from normal air, curators, speakers and audience will don pressurized spacesuits, communicate via crackling shortwave radio, move about and sit through sonic stillness. Can a lively, at times riotously boisterous, conversations be had under threat of suffocation? About such things as the testing grounds for space exploration and the messy historiography of their microearth capsules?
We think so.
Other Disaster Labs
Poseidon vs. Aeolus