Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

James L. Rutledge, PhD.


Although predictive thermal modeling on CubeSats has previously been accomplished, a method to validate these predictive models with terrestrial experiments is essential for developing confidence in the model. As a part of this effort, AFIT has acquired a new Solar Simulation Thermal Vacuum Chamber. This research analyzed the thermal environment to which a test article is exposed within the AFIT Solar Simulation Thermal Vacuum Chamber. A computational model of the thermal environment in the chamber was created and then validated using an experimental buildup approach through thermal balance testing of the empty chamber and an aluminum plate. First, the modeled surface temperatures of the thermal vacuum chamber interior walls were validated within Terror 4 deg C of steady-state experimental data. Next, the aluminum plate computational model was validated within Terror 1?C of steady-state experimental data. Through these results, this research provides the capability to validate spacecraft and payload computational thermal models within the thermal vacuum chamber environment by comparing computational predictions to experimental data for steady-state cases. Additionally, this research validated an upgrade to increase optical performance of the TVAC by bolting a copper plate coated with Aeroglaze? black paint to the top of the platen, ensured safe procedures are in place for solar simulation, and improved the temperature controller performance.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number