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New thermal vacuum chamber at NLR

In 2020, NLR has designed and installed a second thermal vacuum chamber. The new chamber will serve along the already-existing chamber. However, due to its smaller volume, this new chamber is excellently suited for CubeSats and quick thermal tests, like a thermal bake-out, thermal cycling and thermal balance test.

Thermal verification of CubeSat designs

After completion, the chamber has already served as test environment in two recent projects. Together with ISIS, NLR has performed CubeSat thermal verification tests, in order to verify ESATAN-TMS simulations with actual test data. Findings of the project were summarized in a recent publication by ISIS and NLR at the ICES conference: “Thermal Analysis and Verification of CubeSat Designs with ESATAN-TMS”, Te Nijenhuis, Brouwer et al., International Conference for Environmental Systems, 104, 2021.

Thermal characterization of piezo actuators for space application

The second set of tests performed in the NLR’s new thermal vacuum chamber are the tests performed by TU Delft and NLR. Goal of the tests was the thermal characterization of piezo actuators that can be used for deformation and positioning of mirrors in space. The power dissipation of the piezo actuator was measured, and will serve as an input for thermal models of satellite (sub)systems. With this improved knowledge of the thermal performance of the piezo, measures can be applied to limit the leakage from dissipated heat to the optics elements on the satellite.

IMPACTA: Innovative Mechanically Pumped Loop for Active Antennas


NLR has made an complete design for a mechanically pumped loop to be able to cool Active Antennas as efficiently possible. This program is running under the Horizon 2020 program and consists of consortium of 6 partners, where NLR is responsible for the complete design, simulation and testing of the loop. The active antenna consists of more than 100 single heat sources in differing configuration while running in different modes; meaning a large flexibility is needed for the cooling system to prevent the antenna from overheating. The system is using two phase cooling; with a narrow temperature control and a large cooling capacity: in this case 10kW with a cooling system nominal power of less than 1.5%, (with a higher startup / shut down power needed). The loop is currently built by the Spanish consortium leader AVS according NLR’s design, and by doing so, assures Europe will have the knowledge and capability to be able to build these innovative cooling systems for these high power satellites in the future. NLR has made a big step in the electronical design; as this is an often overseen part of a stand alone cooling system. NLR has made a breadboard design, and made the software program flexible enough to adjust for future needs / clients. The system will be tested early 2022, and by doing so reached a TRL of 6.

BRIKII launch 30 June

30th of June the first Dutch military nanosatellite has been successfully launched to orbit with by Virgin Orbit. With this launch the Dutch Ministry of Defense (MoD) takes its first steps into the Space domain.

The satellite is a development of ISISpace, Royal NLR and TU Delft. NLR has developed an innovative payload for the satellite that can detect radio signals from space and locate the location of the source on the earth’s surface. ISISPACE is the designer and integrator of the nanosatellite.

NVIDIA GPU hardware accelerated Satellite SAR Processor enters MetaSensing Space product family

MetaSensing adds a state-of-the-art operational multimode Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) ground processor for satellite SAR sensors to its family of space products.

The SAR Processor, called MSSP after MetaSensing SAR Processor, is developed entirely inhouse by MetaSensing within the framework of their space activities which also includes the development of the high-resolution multimode phased-array X-band SAR payload (StarSAR-X), a realistic SAR simulator to generate training datasets for AI and database for Automatic Target Recognition (KAISAR) and an Electronic Corner Reflector for satellite InSAR applications (ECR-C). Read more .....

 NVIDIA GPU hardware accelerated Satellite SAR Processor enters MetaSensing Space product family (

Relocation SRON-Utrecht to BioScience Park in Leiden

SRON-Utrecht is currently moving into its new building at the BioScience Park in Leiden. Some laboratories are already furnished, while the last machines of others are still being packed in Utrecht. Meanwhile, the first employees can already consider Leiden as their permanent location. According to the planning, the office staff will be the last to make the definitive transfer in September.

The new building was designed by Ector Hoogstad Architecten and is being built by the MedizomZes/Kuijpers building consortium. The clean room is equipped with a low-vibration floor. The 5,000 cubic metres of concrete, 800 tonnes of reinforcement and 300 bored piles provide enough mass and stability to keep out almost any vibration.

Furthermore, the building is equipped with laboratories, technical areas with crane gantries, a characteristic atrium, grandstand stairs and an eye-catching facade. The building has been designed according to the standards of the sustainability hallmark BREEAM Excellent.

The relocation of SRON's head office from Utrecht to South-Holland will be accompanied by a broader collaboration between SRON, Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and various other knowledge partners, aimed at SRON's most important research programmes: astrophysics, exoplanetary research, earth science and technology development.