UMich Plasmadynamics & Electric Propulsion Laboratory (PEPL)
Founded in 1992, by Professor Alec Gallimore, the Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory is now one of the world’s leading electric propulsion research centers. The centerpiece of the laboratory is the Large Vacuum Test Facility (LVTF), 9-m long and 6-m diameter cylindrical stainless-steel clad vacuum chamber. The chamber was built, in 1961, by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company for the Bendix Corporation (see sketch to the left). Originally named the “Space Simulation Chamber,” early experiments investigated the development of Lunar Rovers (at one point the chamber floor was covered in sand for astronaut and rover lunar surface testing) and various other Apollo era research projects (view the Bendix “Lunar Exploration Reference Chart”). Additional information on the origins of the LVTF is available in the Jan-Feb 1961 issue of Bendix Orbit, a company newsletter from the Bendix Corporation.