## What services does the ESA Propulsion Laboratory offer?

Although tasks requested for ESA projects are generally given priority the ESA Propulsion Laboratory does provide services for other European space programmes (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 the Laboratory team José Antonio Gonzalez del Amo, Pierre-Etienne Frigot or Giorgio Saccoccia (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 standard ESA Directorate of Technical and Quality Management research and development, and have a peaceful purpose.

The domain of competence of the Laboratory includes direct or indirect measurements of thrust, mass flow, and electrical parameters related to propulsion system operation (ISO 17025 and ISO 9001 accreditations maintained since 2003).

The laboratory offers the following capabilities:

- design, preparation, and execution of performance characterisation and endurance tests of electric thrusters in the range 1-40 milliNewtons.
- performance tests of components for electric propulsion: cathode/neutralisers (1-10 Amps), propellant feeding systems (0.01-20 milligrams per second (Xe) ), and power supply and conditioning units
- design, manufacturing and validation of test diagnostic equipment (thrust stand, data acquisition systems, diagnostic probes)
- certification of thrust, mass flow and electrical power measurements based on ISO 170125

**VF#1 (FEEP)** has the following facilities:

- 1.3 x 0.8 metre main chamber and 0.5 x 0.3 metre hatch
- mainly dedicated to miliNewton field-emission propulsion testing
- vacuum level down to 10-8 milibars.
- pumping capacity in nominal test conditions: 5000 litres per second (nitrogen)
- 1 rotary pump (40 cubic metres per hour)
- 1 root pump (150 cubic metres per hour)
- 1 turbo pump (1000 litres per second)
- 2 cryopumps (2000 litres per second, 3000 litres per second)

**VF#2 (Galileo)** has the following facilities:

- 1.2 x 1 metre chamber
- mainly dedicated to thrust and mass-flow test of cold-gas, resistojets, miniaturised Hall-effect thrusters, and FEEPs propulsion systems and components (cathodes)
- vacuum level down to 10-8 milibars
- pumping capacity in nominal test conditions: 23 600 litres per second (xenon)
- 1 rotary pump (40 cubic metres per hour)
- 1 root pump (150 cubic metres per hour)
- 1 turbo pump (450 litres per second)
- 1 cryopump (3600 litres per second).
- 2 cryoheads (10 000 litres of xenon per second each)

**VF#3 (Gigant)** has the following facilities:

- 2.5 x 1.6 metre main chamber and 0.8 x 0.4 metre hatch
- mainly dedicated to low/medium-power ion engines and Hall-effect thrusters and miliNewton field-emission propulsion testing
- vacuum level down to 10-9 milibars
- pumping capacity in nominal test conditions: 53 400 litres per second (xenon)
- 1 rotary pump for seals (8 cubic metres per hour)
- 1 rotary pump (40 cubic metres per hour)
- 1 root pump (150 cubic metres per hour)
- 1 turbo pump (1000 litres per second)
- 2 cryopumps (900 litres per second, 10 000 litres per second)
- 4 cryoheads (one 12 500 litres of xenon per second, three 10 000 litres of xenon per second each)

**VF#4 (Corona)** has the following facilities:

- 4.5 x 2 metre main chamber and 1.5 x 1 metre hatch
- mainly dedicated to medium/high-power ion engines and Hall-effect thrusters
- vacuum level down to 10-8 milibars
- pumping capacity in nominal test conditions: 75 000 litres of xenon per second
- 4 oil-free rotary pumps (30 cubic metres per hour)
- 2 turbo pumps (2000 litres per second, 1000 litres per second)
- 3 cryoheads (25 000 litres of xenon per second each)

**VF#5 (Electron)** has the following facilities:

- 0.8 x 0.5 metre chamber
- mainly dedicated to neutraliser systems (field-emission or thermionic)
- vacuum level down to 10-6 milibars
- pumping capacity in nominal test conditions: 260 litres per seconds
- 1 membrane pump (4 cubic metres per hour)
- 1 turbo pump (260 litres per second)

**VF#6 (MicroNewton)** has the following facilities:

- 0.65 x 0.5 metre chamber, mounted on a movable rack
- mainly dedicated to microNewton field-emission propulsion thrust magnitude and noise measurements
- vacuum level down to 10-7 milibars
- pumping capacity in nominal test conditions: 500 litres per second
- 1 moveable rotary and turbo pumping unit (4 cubic metres per hour, 260 litres per second)
- 1 ion pump (500 litres per second)

A seventh vacuum facility (Small Plasma Facility) is in the process of integration.

### Contact

José Antonio Gonzalez del Amo, Jose.Gonzalez.del.Amo @ esa.int,

Pierre-Etienne Frigot, PierreEtienne.Frigot @ esa.int

Giorgio Saccoccia, Giorgio.Saccoccia @ esa.int

Last update: 9 October 2012

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