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The industrial Phase A study of ICAPS started in 2001 and lasted through November 2002. The main objectives of the ESA-sponsored study were (1) to show the technical feasibility of ICAPS, (2) to estimate the cost of ICAPS, (3) to show possible synergetic effects for a joint facility which combines ICAPS and IMPF (International Microgravity Plasma Facility). The main industrial character for the Phase A study was Kayser-Threde GmbH Munich/Germany.

As a result of the Phase A Study it is anticipated that this multi-user modular research laboratory for “complex plasma” and “interactions in cosmic and atmospheric particle systems” will be available onboard the International Space Station in 2008.

The accomodation concept developed for the consolidated IMPF/ICAPS Laboratory followed three basic design requirements:

  • the consolidated IMPF/ICAPS laboratory shall be accommodated into one International Standard Payload Rack ISPR
  • the mass/power/volume envelope available for experiment enclosures shall be maximized
  • reuse of hardware and software items already developed for other space station applications shall be maximized where judged feasible.

The resulting laboratory design is a modular, semi-autonomous multi-user research laboratory which can support research for the two major science disciplines complex plasma and interactions in cosmic and atmospheric particle systems. A common carrier in combination with unique experiment support infrastructure will provide to researchers access to multiple process gases at selectable flow rates, selectable pressures, different particles sizes and shapes, multiple diagnostics tools, and high speed data acquisition, handling and data storage. The IMPF/ICAPS carrier and experiment support infrastructure will remain on-orbit; a ten year on-orbit life is anticipated. In order to provide maximum flexibility of this research facility to its users it is envisioned to replace the process chambers and their corresponding diagnostics every 6 to 18 months. Consumables like process gases and data storage tapes will be replenished on a continuos basis.

Experiment inserts are 12-PU drawer enclosures for each individual standard IMPF and ICAPS experiment. Mix-and-match possibilities are available, i.e. one separate 4-PU drawer and one separate 8-PU drawer can be utilized for any experiment set-up. Each 12-PU Experiment Inserts can provide to the scientific user an:

  • available payload volume for experiment integration of apx. 110 liter
  • available payload mass for experiment integration up to 56 kg
  • available maximum power, inclusive avionics cooling, of 560 W power (28 VDc).

The laboratory infrastructure provides for the experiment insert access to:

  • moderate temperature cooling water loop
  • waste gas interface inclusive turbo pump for high vacuum
  • several process gases with selectable flow rate
  • access to high speed digital data storage

The hardware and software interfaces for each experiment insert are identical resulting in maximized flexibility for accommodation within the carrier.

The anticipated maximum power consumption of the IMPF/ICAPS Laboratory during normal experiment operation is 1.5 kW. Figure 1 provides the front view of the carrier with experiment inserts and experiment support infrastructure inserts installed.


Figure 1: Accommodation Layout and Interfaces for IMPACT Laboratory

The consolidated IMPACT project was funded by the European Space Agency. The Federal Ministry for Education and Research, BMBF / German Space Agency DLR, Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics MPE, and Kayser-Threde GmbH, co-funded IMPF laboratory risk mitigation studies, as well as initial hardware development tasks.

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Created by: D. Langkowski, 23.03.2001
Last modified: 28.07.2005