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New vacuum facility to expand E-TEST lab in Liège

The Liège Space Center CSL at Liège University in Belgium will be expanded with a new clean room and one of Europe’s largest vacuum facilities. Thanks to federal and university funding worth 25 million Euros, the new facility will enable delicate technology research from space applications to components for the Einstein Telescope.

The Walloon Region, the federal Belgian government are supporting the Liège Space Center CSL to set up a newly outfitted clean room containing a vacuum tank seven meters in diameter and twelve meters wide. This facility will be Europe’s biggest vacuum facility outfitted with specialist equipment like a vibration-isolated optical bench and cryogenic cooling. It will allow researchers to carry out work on future scientific and spaceflight instruments in the ultra-cold thermal environment of space.

“This new facility will let us achieve cleaner conditions in the cleanroom because we have more space”, explains CSL project manager Dr Cédric Lenaerts. “And of course this new chamber will also allow us to be competitive for testing or calibrating large instruments.”

The CSL is part of the Université de Liège and has grown to become one of the flagships of Belgium’s space sector, partnering with both research and industry.

One eager user of CSL’s new facilities will be the researchers of E-TEST, a research programme funded by Interreg which both develops a prototype cryogenic mirror for the Einstein Telescope and studies the geology of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine as a possible site for the future observatory. Dr Lenaerts: “There will be a lab space including a cleanroom with a vacuum chamber where we can test the E-TEST prototype mirror under cryogenic conditions. Here our scientists and industrial partners will be able to research technologies that are necessary to make the Einstein Telescope a success”.

Design of the Focal 7 vacuum vessel at CSL in Liège. Credit: CSL
Design of the Focal 7 vacuum vessel at CSL in Liège. Credit: CSL
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