History and company team background

CSK-1, CSK-1A, CSK-1B, CSK-1C Space Furnaces/Crystallizers

     17 years non-stop on board the orbital komplex MIR (1984 – 2001)!

   Development and production of the programmable space crystallizers CSK-1A, 1B and 1C for the material research in Space (operational on board orbital complex MIR from 1984 up to 2001). CSK-1 was used for numerous experiments within the INTERKOSMOS programme and CSK-1C for EuroMIR'94 and EuroMIR'95 missions and others.

   The basis of the crystallizer is a tubular furnace with five independent heating segments enabling a variety of longitudinal time-varying temperature profiles. Processed samples in sealed thin-walled stainless steel ampoules are moving from the first magazíne through the furnace tube with a specified temperature field at a defined speed into the second magazíne OR the ampoules are static and the temperature field is changing according to the given program. Both rotating magazines have a capacity of 19 ampoules. The crystallizer operates in an automatic mode, i.e. the formation of temperature fields and their changes in time, exchanging of samples, setting their positions in the temperature field, speed and direction of their movement, recording the measured experimental data (including time history of temperature, microgravity and vibrations), etc. are controlled by a microprocessor according to the program of the experiment.

   The device is intended for basic material research on the ground at G = 1 to 10 under conditions of weightlessness (microgravity), for example, to study processes of non-equilibrium directional solidification of (multicomponent) melts and solutions of dielectrics, metals, semiconductors or dielectric glasses, superconductors and others in the field of crystal growth, crystal chemistry, crystallography, physical chemistry and physics. As an additional equipment, there were successfully developed and tested thermographic probes for differential thermal analysis (DTA), the platform for passive vibrations damping (based on aerostatic bearings), and other auxiliary measuring equipment (specially developed for this purpose in the company "Cestmir Barta, BBT - Materials Processing“.

   Using the device CSK-1C, hundreds of experiments were carried out by many scientists from several European countries under scientific and technological programs of ESA (European Space Agency), DARA (German Space Agency), DLR-Musc (German Space Center), BBT-Materials Processing (Prague), RKK Energiya (MIR, Russia), IKI (Space Research Institute, Russia), CNES (French National Center for Space Research), etc.

Basic technical data:
Dimensions: 750 x 600 x 300 mm
Weight: 41 kg
Sample ampoules: thin-walled stainless steel ampoules, Ø 15,4 mm, length 140 mm
Weight: 41 kg
Number of ampoules: 19 pcs
Sample translation speed: 0,08 – 3600 mm/hod
Working temperature: 100 – 950 ºC
Weight: 41 kg
Voltage / consumption: 23 – 34 V DC, max. power consumption 550 W


  A brief history:

1984: The crystallizer CSK-1 (predecessor of CSK-1C), developed in the Department of Material Research of the Institute of Physics (Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences) in the Development workshops of the Academy of Sciences, was deployed aboard the orbital station MIR in collaboration with the Institute of Space Research of the Academy of Sciences of USSR (IKI AN SSSR) within the Interkosmos programme).
1990: The CSK Programme in the Institute of Physics was cancelled but it was followed by the private Czech company "Cestmir Barta, BBT Materials Processing, Crystal Science & Technology Institute" (hereinafter as "BBT") which was founded by the original investigators of the entire project with the cooperation of selected original team of experts.
1991: Based on the originál equipment CSK-1, BBT company developed two specialized apparatuses: CSK-1A (for manned orbital stations, MIR-type) and CSK-1B (for unmanned orbital stations, Foton-type).
1993: The company BBT established the International Training Center for space materials experiments (International Users' Support Center).
1995: The company BBT developed a modern version of the CSK-1C crystallizer which was operational on board the orbital station MIR from 1995 until the termination of MIR in 2001 - along with the original equipment CSK-1, it was full 17 years (!) on board and it was thus one of the longest working equipment on board MlR at all.

CSK-1C furnace - astronauts Pedro Duque (Spain) and Ulf Merbold (Germany) CSK-1C space furnace with the German astronaut Klaus-Pieter Flade (Project MIR'92, Photo DLR, Germany)
Temperature profiles

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