A test in SCIROCCO Plasma Wind Tunnel facility was successfully performed on the full-scale QARMAN CubeSat, a miniaturized satellite developed to demonstrate re-entry technologies.
This test marked the world premiere in arc jet testing of a complete, full-scale spacecraft and represented a tremendous step forward in ground testing, since up to now only single components were tested at a time.
This test was originally proposed by CIRA to von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI) and was performed in the framework of a bilateral collaboration between the two institutions.
QARMAN (Qubesat for Aero-thermodynamic Research and Measurements on AblatioN) is a 3-Unit CubeSat designed and manufactured by VKI and funded by ESA (European Space Agency), with the goal to demonstrate the possibility of non-powered rendez-vous, the use of a passive de-orbiting system and finally to collect scientific data during its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
The QARMAN spacecraft survived in a good shape to 6.5 minutes of SCIROCCO testing under flight representative conditions, duplicating on ground the integral heat load of re-entry phase.
The SCIROCCO test results gained are considered crucial to validate the thermal modeling of the spacecraft during re-entry critical phase and will be used to improve the design of the Thermal Protection Systems.
Following the successful SCIROCCO testing the QARMAN spacecraft is due to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2019. Then the CubeSat will be deployed from the ISS and orbit around Earth for a period of 4 months before re-entry into atmosphere.
More information available on the ESA Website: https://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2018/06/Reentry_test_of_QARMAN_CubeSat