It’s not the most obvious part of the process, but NASA does need to test its space tech before strapping it to a rocket and blasting it off. So, where do they do that?
In places like Vacuum Chamber 5, shown in the photo above, which is a facility located at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. NASA has several similar vacuum chambers, but the one above is the best at simulating the harshness of space, thanks to an insanely high pumping speed that allows it to maintain a continuous space-like environment.
Here’s how it works, according to NASA: The cryogenic panels at the top and back of the chamber house a helium-cooled panel that reaches near absolute zero temperatures (approximately -440 degrees Fahrenheit). That extreme cold freezes any air left in the chamber and quickly freezes the thruster exhaust, allowing the chamber to maintain a high vacuum environment. The outer chevrons are then cooled with liquid nitrogen to shield the cryogenic panels from the room temperature surfaces of the tank.
To put it simply, when that switch is flipped to “On,” this chamber becomes the deadliest place on Earth. Just like in space, the human body could only stay conscious for around 15-20 seconds in that (lack of an) environment — and most anyone would be dead in about 3 minutes.
For NASA, it's the perfect place to see how satellites and other tech will perform while drifting around in space. Just think: The tech we'll use to explore the stars, and alien planets, will all be tested in a room just like this.