ESA' s test centre
Most ESA spacecraft are tested at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. The ESTEC Test Centre has everything that is needed to check out a spacecraft before it goes to the launch site.
The Large Space Simulator is sometimes called 'space in a can'. Inside the chamber, a satellite is exposed to severe space-like conditions. After the air is pumped out, a satellite’s temperature can be made to vary from 100ºC - the boiling point of water - down to a freezing -100ºC. A person could not survive at such temperatures!
Special shakers check that the satellite can withstand strong vibrations, especially during launch. The largest shaker in Europe is ESA's Multi-Axis Shaker, called Hydra.
The Large European Acoustic Facility makes sure that a satellite can withstand the ear-shattering noise of a launch. The satellite is blasted by sound from huge speakers.
Other tests ensure that a spacecraft’s electrical equipment will work correctly. Careful checks are made to ensure that different systems do not affect each other. Static electricity is also a possible threat.
Communication antennas are checked in a steel cage that cuts off outside TV or radio signals. The walls are lined with special material so that the room is as quiet as deep space.