Geostationary communications satellites, once launched and in orbit, need to operate for years with high reliability. To achieve such performance, satellites undergo a rigorous process of testing during manufacture to ensure that each spacecraft component and system can withstand the rigors of launch and the extremes of the space environment.
This artifact--an Arcjet PCU (Power Conditioning Unit) Load Fixture--is a component of the satellite check-out station for Intelsat VIIIA (805) communications spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin and launched in 1998. The checkout station was a suite of testing devices used to simulate and assess a broad range of spacecraft functions after final assembly. Technicians tested the satellite at the factory and then again at the launch site.
The Arcjet PCU Load Fixture Test was designed to simulate one such function: The load placed on the spacecraft electronics when the arcjet (a small propulsion device used to move the satellite or adjust its position) was activated and in use. Too large a load (consumption of power) could damage the spacecraft.
This artifact was donated by Lockheed Martin to the Museum in 1998.
Gift of Lockheed Martin