External Laboratories (Materials and electrical components testing)

ESA maintains a Europe-wide network of specialized laboratories supplementing the technical services and competence provided by the ESTEC laboratories and the ESTEC Test Centre.

These specialist centres of excellence provide important benefits to European space programmes and industrial competitiveness, and continued access to these facilities is essential for Europe's space sector.

The following facilities are maintained in the area of materials and electrical components testing:

Microelectronics Technology Support Laboratory (MTSL) at the Tyndall National Institute of University College Cork (IE) – Provides support for ESA in evaluating new components for space applications as well as failure investigations.

Electron Accelerator Laboratory at the University of Delft (NL) – Located close to ESTEC, ESA uses this facility for rapid radiation testing of components and materials.

Proton Irradiation Facility (PIF) at the Paul Scherrer Institute (CH) – A unique European facility with a high-energy proton beam able to generate proton spectra comparable to those encountered by spacecraft at a wide variety of orbits, used for testing space components and materials.

Heavy Ion Facility (HIF) at University of Louvain (BE) – Also used for radiation testing of components and parts, this is ESA's preferred facility in the field of heavy ion low-energy protons and neutron radiation testing.

Radiation Facilities (RADEF) at University of Jyvaskyla (FI) – New component designs and their associated packaging require the increased use of high-energy beams to achieve the particle penetration needed. This facility has been set up as an alternative to US test facilities, specialising in high penetration heavy ion beams.

Laser SEREEL Test Facility at MBDA Precision Solutions (UK) – Picosecond pulses of sapphire laser light are used to simulate the effects on electronics of radiation-induced 'single event upsets' (SEUs), a cheaper alternative to ion beam testing.

Materials and Processes Test Facilities, consisting of a set of facilities at Austrian Institute of Technology in Seibersdorf (AT), ONERA in Toulouse (FR), DLR Cologne (DE) and the Swedish Institute of Production Engineers (Swerea IVF) at Gothenburg (SE) – These facilities are employed by ESA for special test methods not generally available within ESA's own Materials and Components Laboratories, including qualifying materials for spaceflight.

Last update: 25 March 2011

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