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Liquid helium tanks

for space applications

Helium is used in space applications, in particular to ensure the pressurization of launch vehicles' cryogenic tanks or as a coolant for satellites' optical parts. We have developed supercritical and superfluid helium cryostats to carry out this function while increasing the mass of helium available and reducing the size of storage tanks.

They are composed of an internal shell for storing liquid helium, covered with multi-layer vacuum insulation and an external shell that is subjected to the external environment. Thermal panels can then be added to increase the cryostat's efficiency and ensure the helium remains at low temperatures for several years in orbit.

Key benefits

  • Proven experience ǀ SSHeL supercritical helium tanks have been fitted on Ariane 5 since its first launch in 1996, thereby proving their efficiency and robustness. Moreover, they have been continuously improved to increase their performance. They are also fitted on Ariane 6 launchers
  • Quality standards ǀ These cryostats are produced according to European space quality standards in a controlled environment. We have several 100 to 100,000-class clean rooms to ensure a level of cleanliness that is compatible with the end use
  • Bespoke services ǀ We can provide storage services, supply helium, and monitor pre-launch implementation operations
  • Adaptability ǀ We can design and manufacture cryostats that are suited to any project
  • An on-site test zone ǀ Our cryostats are tested in a cryogenic environment in our test zone
  • Compliance with standards ǀ In accordance with ESA and CNES space standards

Key figures

Volume 1 332 litres

Mass 224 kg

Usefull life 5 years

Leak rate 10-9 mb.l/s

Mission accomplished for Herschel

Launched on May 14th 2009, Herschel,  the largest space telescope, contained more than 2,300 liters of liquid helium, stored in a high-tech cryogenic tank, designed and manufactured by Air Liquide. The liquid helium is used to cool the instruments of the telescope to close to absolute zero. Herschel made ​​numerous scientific observations in the Universe and sent a wealth of data.

In the framework of this program, Air Liquide has moreover delivered other equipment, in particular a second liquid helium tank for tests on the ground, helium transportation lines, as well as heat shields that insulate the tanks and instruments from the exterior environment.


  • Ariane European launchers, from Ariane 1 to Ariane 6
  • Herschel satellite 

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Air Liquide has the ambition, the will and the expertise to engage in all the major new international challenges: electric propulsion, more competitive launch vehicles, the constellation of satellites, life in space, and more.

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