ESR Technology / ESTL

ESTL created in 1972 as result of competitive tender by ESRO. Part of ESR Technology Ltd Warrington UK Has been in continuous operation as an independent space tribology laboratory for over 37 years;

The Importance of Tribology:

  • Every spacecraft has mechanisms (moving parts) and many are single point failures and critical to mission success
  • The application of ‘good tribology’ contributes significantly to the efficiency, reliability and performance of European Spacecraft mechanisms
  • ESTL offers independent best practice and support in this specialised field, to the benefit of all the European Space mechanisms community

European Space Tribology Laboratory (ESTL) are essential:

  • ESTL fulfils a specialised but important function for the European Space Mechanisms community
  • ESTL remains an independent company, offering its products and services equally to all in Europe
  • The ESA funding underpins the ESTL operation and provides essential R&D, ability to fast track, perform consultancy and develop test equipment
  • ESTL is considered as an important asset that has been developed for ESA and the European Space Community and this investment needs to be maintained

An overview of the major contributions that ESTL has made:

  • Simulating the space environment
  • Real-time and accelerated life testing
  • Innovative test rig design and instrumentation
  • Development of solid lubricant film technology
  • Characterisation of fluid lubricants for space
  • Development of a bearing active preload system
  • Through the Tribology Applications Programs (TAP), the generation of tribological data and knowledge. TAP are specific Tribology R&D, typically size: 10-50 kEuro. TAP activities are defined on year by year basis.
  • Data base and reference for the Tribology issues. ESTL on-line reports database (

Activity covers all operational and maintenance aspects of ESTL to ensure that its equipment and staff meet the required standards for the following tasks:

  • Handling & testing of flight hardware
  • Component cleaning, handling and assembly
  • Component coating & lubrication to approved procedures
  • Assembly and testing of tribo-components
  • Preparation of equipment/facilities in support of the Tribology Applications Programme (ESA R&D activities)

Activity covers Product assurance: (incl Safety Manual, Operation and Maintenance Manual, QA Manual) ESA audit successful completed end 2009 => ESA certified lab!

Activity covers Consultancy, which aimed at

  • Providing rapid technical advice and analytical support to ESA member-state companies on mechanism tribology and performance issues.
  • Advisor/expert to TEC-MSM and ESA projects, e.g. in support to various development projects
  • Consultancy to industry for the benefit of ESA projects;

Last update: 7 May 2014

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