The arrival and installation of Ad Astra Rocket Company's 35 ft x 15 ft vacuum chamber. This state of the art chamber will be used to simulate space conditions while firing the company's 200 kW VASIMR plasma rocket. The new VX-200 rocket will be entirely self contained and flight-like within the chamber. Plasma diagnostics will ride on a translation stage mounted within chamber and will measure the temperature and density of the plasma exhaust. Scientists (I am one of them) and engineers will have to wear clean suites while installing the rocket and plasma diagnostics, and enter via a 3 ft diameter man hole on the side of the vacuum chamber. During the day-long pump down period, the chamber is initially evacuated with a roughing pump. It is further evacuated by 4 large cryopumps. The cryopumps are essentially large pieces of cold metal that literally freeze the air from a gas to a solid, effectively removing the gas trapped in the chamber down to 1 billionth of an atmosphere (0.000000001 atm) The vacuum chamber is large enough that it would fit an entire school bus inside with room to spare...hold your breath kids (space suits sold separately).
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