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Herschel spacecraft during distance measurements between the primary and secondary mirrors
Enabling & Support

Testing Support Facilities

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology / Test centre

The Testing Support Facilities are part of the Engineering Services Section and cover the following main areas:

  • Electrical, opto-mechanical and dimensional metrology
  • Electronic design and manufacturing, maintenance of electronic equipment
  • Mechanical design, multiphysics numerical simulations and mechanical manufacturing.

This Section is ISO 9001 certified. It is organised as follows:

Metrology Laboratory

What is it for?

This Laboratory is tasked with performing mechanical, opto-mechanical and dimensional measurements for the ESTEC Test Centre, ESA laboratories and ESA projects. It also participates in the development and maintenance of auxiliary test equipment and methods for the ESTEC Test Centre.

How is it equipped?

The Laboratory, located in the class 100,000 of the Test Centre, has the following capabilities:

  • Optical alignment (theodolite, laser tracker)
  • Mechanical positioning and alignment (two 3D coordinate measurement machines, laser tracker)
  • Spacecraft alignment, payload assembly and alignment (Class 10 000 cleanliness is achievable)
  • Interface checks and 3D dimensional measurement
  • Laser interferometry (linear optics)
  • Vacuum-compatible 3D measurement system (videogrammetry)
  • Vacuum-compatible infrared camera system for thermography
  • Reverse engineering (part to computer-aided-design modelling)
  • Strain/stress/roughness measurements.

Support tasks in its field of competence have been carried out for numerous ESA projects including XMM and Cluster (focal length measurement); MetOp, Proba-2, Galileo GIOVE-A, COROT, ATV, GOCE, LISA Pathfinder and Herschel-Planck.

Laboratory Equipment Pool

Camera in LSS
Camera in LSS

What is it for?

The main task of the Laboratory Equipment Pool (LEP) is to organise the calibration and repair of electronic equipment used on the ESTEC site. Associated tasks include maintaining in-house primary standards, performing inspections of incoming equipment and technical consultancy. The LEP manages a pool of electronic measurement and test equipment for temporary loan to other ESTEC laboratories or Test Centre customers.

The LEP belongs to the engineering area of the ESTEC Test Centre. It works closely with the engineers of the Electronic Design Office (EDO), facilitating mutual cooperation which is beneficial for electronic test set ups and measurement methods. Expertise on electronic calibration and temperature/humidity sensors is available.

How is it equipped?

The Laboratory has the following capabilities:


  • Primary electrical standards which are traceable to national and international standards
  • A Faraday cage which allows high-frequency measurements and ensure disturbance-free measurements
  • Support for measurement set-up definition, loan of measurement equipment
  • A network of accessible LEP database to retrieve data concerning in-house electronic equipment
  • A facility for temperature/humidity sensor calibration
  • Management of outside calibration control

The LEP is ISO 17025 accredited for the following measurements: DC voltage, resistance, capacitance, temperature/humidity.

Electronic Design Office / Electrical Workshop

What are they for?

The Electronic Design Office (EDO) has the task of designing, manufacturing and assembling electronic hardware. It supports ESTEC testing facilities in the conception and realisation of new equipment or the modification and upgrading of existing equipment. It also provides advice to project groups to assess electronic or electromechanical design concepts by simulation or breadboarding – the creation of test models.

Located close to the ESTEC Test Centre the EDO is in direct contact with the Electrical Workshop (EWS), qualified for electronic hardware prototyping and manufacturing as well as flight hardware assembly.

How are they equipped?

The EDO is equipped with numerous tools for electronic design, combined with specific expertise in many electronics fields. The EDO, with the EWS, have the following capabilities:

  • Electrical design tools (for example Pspice, fully programmable gate array (FPGA) software, thermal analysis software for printed circuit board (PCB) design) including various measurement tools
  • A large amount for special tools for cable harness manufacturing, PCB manufacturing and assembly and modification/repair of medium-sized electromechanical devices.
  • A clean room for flight hardware assembly, integration and repair.

EDO and EWS are ISO 9001 certified as part of the Engineering Services Section.

Mechanical Design Office / Mechanical Workshop

What are they for?

The Mechanical Design Office (MDO) participates in the design and realisation of dedicated test equipment and mechanical ground support equipment (MGSE) for the ESTEC Test Centre and its customers.

It cooperates closely with the other units to carry out investment and maintenance tasks to update or modify the test facilities. It is in direct contact with the Mechanical Workshop (MWS) which can handle a large variety of mechanical manufacturing tasks.

Located close to the ESTEC Test Centre, the MWS provides a quick reaction time when ad-hoc support is urgently requested. It also backs up ESTEC laboratories in the field of parts and components manufacturing or rapid prototyping.

The MDO performs multi-physics simulations at the request of customers such as vibration test runs of shakers or structural simulations of ESTEC Test Centre hardware or MGSE. It maintains a Product Data Management system with a 3D model database of the ESTEC Test Centre.

How are they equipped?

The MDO is in possession of state-of-the-art computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) equipment and simulation software tools for mechanical design and manufacturing. The MWS is equipped with traditional and numerically controlled machines.

The capabilities of the MDO and MWS include:

  • CAD/CAM stations equipped with advanced software modules for design, simulation or manufacturing
  • A Product Management System (SMARTeam) including a large repository of the ESTEC Test Centre facilites.
  • Multi-physics vibration facilities simulators
  • Standard tooling and equipment
  • High-precision 5-axis computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine
  • High-precision CNC turning machine
  • Sheet metal manufacturing including a CNC press break
  • Vacuum compatible welding and soldering corner
  • 3D rapid prototyping printer
  • Multi-layer insulation (MLI) blanket room

As part of the Engineering Services Section both MDO and MWS are ISO 9001 accredited.

For more information please contact

Bruno Sarti,
Head of ESA's Engineering Services Section
Bruno.Sarti @

For more information please contact Gaetan Piret, ESTEC Test Centre Manager.

Gaetan.Piret @

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