Researching and developing movement-based systems for European space missions

The Mechanisms Section (TEC-MSM) is responsible for space mechanisms, actuators, deployment systems, high-stability pointing and scanning, tribology, gradiometry, miniaturised mechanical devices and mechanical micro-nano technology. The Mechanisms Section is the centre of competence for all matters related to space mechanisms and tribology.

The Section deals with requirements specifications, design, analysis, manufacturing and testing of :

  • actuators, motors and drive systems and their sensor, control and electronic components;
  • deployment systems for solar arrays, masts and antennae;
  • pointing and scanning mechanisms;
  • hold down, release and separation systems;
  • reaction and momentum wheels;
  • tribology for space mechanisms;
  • means for passive and active compensation of micro-vibration and noise;
  • accelerometers and gradiometry devices;
  • miniature mechanical and electromechanical devices;
  • mechanical micro-nano technology;
  • mechanisms for robotics (arms, grippers, articulated joints);
  • mechanical devices operating at cryogenic and hot temperatures;
  • planetary exploration tools (anchoring, scooping, drilling);
  • mechanical elements for launcher, re-entry and landing systems (load attenuation devices, valves, seals, turbopump bearings, parachute systems, landing gears, etc.).

Within its realm of technical competence, the Section performs the following activities:

  • provision of specialised support to feasibility and project-definition studies, preparatory programmes and approved projects;
  • participation in the definition and execution of the Agency's technology programmes, including provision of relevant inputs for the technical contents, harmonisation and industrial policy;
  • contribution to the overseeing activities of the Technical and Quality Management Directorate through participation in project reviews and evaluation of procurement packages;
  • technical liaison with users and project groups and other organisational bodies in and outside the Agency, coordination with other ESA and national developments and monitoring of applicable technology development trends;
  • promotion of technologies of high performance host ratio to enhance the competitiveness of European industries in the field of space mechanisms;
  • establishment and promotion of design and engineering standards for space mechanisms.

For the conduct of these activities, the Section

  • co-ordinates, where applicable, the requirements of technology elements in its domain of competence with the overall requirements of systems being developed under the responsibility of other D/TEC divisions;
  • maintains state-of-the-art expertise;
  • defines, maintains and operates multi-body dynamics simulation and other specialised mechanical, servo-control computational tools;
  • ensures the management coordination of the European Space Tribology Laboratory, ESTL.

Last update: 18 January 2011

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