ESA' s test centre
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.
Last update: 12 October 2011