This is the engineer’s entrance to ESA’s Large Space Simulator, Europe’s largest vacuum chamber.
Entire satellites requiring testing in simulated space conditions are lowered down into the 15 m-high and 10 m-diameter chamber through a hatch on top.
Once the top and side hatches are sealed, the high-performance pumps can create a vacuum a billion times lower than standard sea level atmosphere, held for weeks at a time during test runs.
And it is more than just space vacuum that is simulated. The chamber’s black-hued interior walls are lined with tubes pumped full of –190°C liquid nitrogen to mimic the extreme cold of deep space.