What services does the Antenna Test Facilities offer?

Although tasks requested for ESA projects are generally given priority, the Antenna Test Facilities do provide services for other European space programmes and companies, including SMEs (although not in competition with commercial laboratories) that meet the criteria described below.

A candidate customer can request a quotation to perform a test by contacting Laboratory manager Maurice Paquay (contact details below). To qualify, the candidate customer (or end customer they are acting for) must be a person or body under the jurisdiction of an ESA Member State. The project in question must correspond to space oriented work such as equipment testing –and must have a peaceful purpose.

The Facilities are made up of the Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR) Laboratory and the Compact Payload Test Range (CPTR).

The CATR is a dual-parabolic cylinder reflector compact range dedicated to testing small to medium sized antennas. Its positioning system comprises a polar over-elevation over azimuth rotation axes, with optical encoders on all axes to provide accurate position knowledge.

It is ideally suited for testing antennas under development for verification of their design, as well as qualification testing of antennas. It can assess measurement techniques and develop them for R&D projects and provide measurement services.

Electrical characteristics  
Overall size 12.5 x 8.5 x 4.3 metres
Plane wave zone 1 x 1.2 x 1 metres
Frequency Range (instrumentation) 4 – 110 GHz 110 – 250 GHz under development
Amplitude Ripple +/- 0.35 dB (X-band)
Phase Ripple +/- 3 deg. (X-band)
Taper 0.5 dB (X-band)
Environmental characteristics
Temperature 21 deg C +/- 2 deg.
Humidity 50% +/- 10%
Test Positioner – Load Capacity 100 kg
Accuracy rotational axes +/- 0.01 deg
Accuracy translation axis +/- 0.01 mm
Main Reflector Dimensions 3.2 x 1.7 metres
Surface accuracy 50 microns (RMS)

The CPTR consists of a shielded anechoic chamber within a Class 100,000 clean room (ISO 8) with a feed scanner room, an attached control room and a test perparation area. It is used for radiating payload measurements to verify in-orbit performance of complex radiating systems. It can also performs antenna and Radar Cross Section (RCS) measurements.

In addition, engineers can measure other critical system parameters, such as EIRP, Group Delay, G/T beam steering and link budgets on the integrated system. The CPTR also offers the assessment of antenna measurement techniques being developed for R&D projects.

The CPTR is a Compensated Compact Range designed for low cross-polar performance. This allows the making of accurate measurements of communication payloads employing frequency and/or polarisation reuse. The feed horns can be placed at different locations in the focal zone, causing the wave front to deviate from the normal range axis. By placing horns at a variety of positions, the performance of a complete up/downlink via a satellite for ground stations in different locations can be measured.

The equipment needed to operate the positioners and acquire the test data is located in the adjacent control room. The Electrical Ground Support Equipment (EGSE) required to operate the system under test is placed in the preparation area and connected with feed-throughs to the system in the CPTR.

Electrical characteristics  
Overall size 16 x 11 x 25 metres
Plane Wave Zone 7 x 5 x 5 metres
Frequency Range (instrumentation) 3.5 to 20 GHz
Amplitude Ripple +/- 0.2 decibels
Phase Ripple +/- 4 deg. C
Taper 0.4 decibels
Environmental characteristics
Cleanliness Class 100,000
Temperature 21 deg C +/- 2 deg.
Humidity 50% +/- 10%
Test Positioners – Load Capacity 5000 kg
Main Reflector Dimensions 10.5 x 7.5 metres
Surface accuracy 70 microns (peak to peak)


Maurice Paquay, Maurice.Paquay @ esa.int

Last update: 9 October 2012

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