Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Dr. Pauline Faure

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


The Blue Thermal Vacuum Chamber (TVAC) located in the Space Environments Laboratory at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), may be used for thermal vacuum testing of test articles that fit with in the semi cylindrical test section that has a radius of approximately 18 cm and a length of 61 cm. The potential test articles include CubeSat systems and subsystem. The Blue TVAC can also be used for educational and research purposes. The goal of this thesis project is to develop a thermal model of the Blue TVAC to predict and analyze the thermal response of the chamber. Thermal vacuum testing is conducted to verify the repeatability of a test and validate the thermal model. Thermal vacuum tests were conducted according to the ISO Standard 19683 to measure the temperature at various points in the chamber. This data was used to determine the thermal response of the chamber and the distribution of heat within the chamber. After conducting a total of fifteen thermal vacuum tests, eleven without a test article and four with a test article, a repeatable testing procedure was written to ensure that results from such tests are consistent. A thermal model was developed using Thermal Desktop to predict the temperature distribution within the chamber during the cooling phase, cold soak phase, heating phase, and hot soak phase of a thermal vacuum test. The simulations of the empty thermal vacuum test predict the platen temperature in the Blue TVAC with a thermal uncertainty margin of less than 10℃. The simulations of the thermal vacuum test with a 3U CubeSat mass model predict the platen temperature in the Blue TVAC with a thermal uncertainty margin of less than 30℃. These simulations can predict the mass model temperature with a thermal uncertainty margin of less than 15℃. The thermal model can v be used to analyze how future changes to the Blue TVAC may affect the thermal distribution in the chamber. Finally, recommendations are made to further improve the performance and repeatability of the Blue TVAC as well as the thermal model with specific instruction for implementing changes and verifying potential improvements.