The CubeSat Support Facility (CSF) is an assembly integration and testing facility for CubeSats, located at the ESA Education Training Centre, based at the ESEC-Galaxia facility in Transinne, Belgium. Its purpose: offer training and test facilities for university students that are part, or aiming to be part, of ESA’s educational CubeSat initiatives such as ‘Fly Your Satellite!'.
The CSF is state of the art, designed and equipped according to industry quality standards. It boasts a cleanroom, along with the necessary equipment to perform integration activities and environmental tests on CubeSats and their subsystems – including complex and specialised equipment not often found in universities. With this facility, the ESA Education Programme is able to provide CubeSat projects with end-to-end support, and to offer opportunities to participate in CubeSat projects to a large number of universities. This all contributes to helping students gain knowledge and experience in satellite engineering and space project management.
In addition to the laboratory equipment required for the satellite integration, inspections and functional tests, two large pieces of equipment are particularly useful to students using the facilities:
- A Thermal Vacuum Chamber, to recreate the vacuum and temperature conditions that CubeSats will experience in space, with temperatures varying from extreme heat to extreme cold. This is an essential test to ensure that satellites can survive the harsh conditions of space.
- A 20 kN Electrodynamic Shaker system, to perform vibration tests on CubeSats. This essentially mimics the violent vibrations that a satellite would experience during launch.
The CSF is primarily used by teams participating in ESA Academy’s Fly Your Satellite! CubeSat Programme, but in the near future there will be additional innovative courses offered to help university students to learn about environmental testing with hands-on activities and lectures from experts.