Spending more time in space requires the right tools for the job — and since these tools need to stand up outside the bounds of our own atmosphere, we have to make new tools.And of course, before they go up into space, they need to be tested. Here’s how — and where — they do it.

NASA released this photo of their VF-5 vacuum chamber — the strongest one in the world — that they use to approximate space-conditions here on Earth. The lack of air inside wouldn’t be your only problem with a visit inside though, it’s also the temperature which is kept almost to absolute zero with the help of cryogenic panels at either end.


Before a new piece of space hardware ventures out into the solar system, it first gets a trial run in the VF-5, to see how it fares in this not-quite-space.

Image: NASA.