24/7 Space News
ESA advances satellite testing capabilities at Europe's largest thermal vacuum facility
Based at the ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the LSS has performed pre-flight testing for many of ESA's biggest missions, including Rosetta, Juice and Plato. The chamber incorporates a Sun simulator with up to 19 IMAX cinema-class Xenon light bulbs and liquid or gaseous nitrogen shrouds lining its walls to reproduce the chill of space.
ESA advances satellite testing capabilities at Europe's largest thermal vacuum facility
by Robert Schreiber
Noordwijk, Netherlands (SPX) Jan 19, 2024

In the realm of space exploration, testing equipment under conditions that mimic the unforgiving environment of space is critical. At the forefront of this endeavor is the European Space Agency's (ESA) Large Space Simulator (LSS), located at the ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. This mammoth facility, known for its capability to simulate the vacuum, temperature, and solar radiation conditions of space, has been a cornerstone for testing satellites for major missions like Rosetta, Juice, and Plato.

Central to the LSS's operation are the New Generation Data Collection Units (NgDCUs), a set of four sophisticated hardware units designed to endure the rigors of spaceflight conditions while remaining earthbound. These units, integral to the LSS's thermal data acquisition system, play a pivotal role in ensuring that satellites can withstand the harsh environment of space.

The Large Space Simulator, notable for its immense size, can accommodate structures as large as an upended London double-decker bus, measuring 15 meters in height and 10 meters in width. It features a Sun simulator that reproduces unfiltered sunshine, enabling entire satellites to be operated in space-equivalent illumination, vacuum, and temperature conditions for extended periods.

The NgDCUs, currently undergoing their biennial calibration process to ensure accuracy, are not commonly seen as they are fitted into the equipment bay of the motion simulator within the LSS. This motion simulator is crucial for rotating a satellite during testing within the cylindrical chamber. The NgDCUs' design allows them to rotate along with the test satellite, a feature that sets them apart from typical acquisition systems used in other test chambers.

Each NgDCU is capable of fitting seven data cards and can acquire test data across a maximum of 54 channels, collectively handling more than 1500 channels. These units are connected to thermocouples and other sensors embedded within the test satellite, gathering essential thermal data during each test campaign. This data, supplemented by optical and thermal cameras mounted within the LSS, provides a comprehensive understanding of how a satellite will perform in space.

Koen Debeule, an electronics engineer at ESA's ESTEC Test Centre, highlights the unique nature of these units: "For typical test chambers, this kind of acquisition system would be operated outside vacuum. But because these units need to rotate along with the test satellite, they have to be built to withstand sustained hard vacuum and temperature swings. Being built to flight quality in this way really makes them unique."

The collaboration in the development of the NgDCUs underscores the collective effort in European space technology. Hardware for these units came from Syderal in Switzerland, while the software was supplied by Terma in the Netherlands, demonstrating a pan-European endeavor in advancing space testing capabilities.

The LSS, operated for ESA by European Test Services, stands as the largest facility of its kind in Europe. It offers a complete suite of equipment for satellite testing under a single roof, including a Sun simulator with up to 19 IMAX cinema-class Xenon light bulbs and liquid or gaseous nitrogen shrouds lining its walls to replicate the chill of space.

This facility, with its advanced testing capabilities and the unique features of the NgDCUs, continues to be a vital asset for ESA's space exploration initiatives, ensuring that the spacecrafts launched are well-prepared to withstand the challenges of their extraterrestrial missions.

Related Links
ESTEC Test Centre
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
D-Orbit Secures Record euro 100m in Series C Funding, Advancing Space Logistics and In-Orbit Services
Fino Mornasco, Italy (SPX) Jan 12, 2024
D-Orbit has announced the successful first closing of its Series C funding round, amassing approximately euro 100 million. This substantial funding, one of the largest for a European Space Tech company, builds on D-Orbit's impressive performance in 2023, including triple-digit annual revenue growth since 2021 and securing over euro 60 million in contracts from European governments and space agencies. D-Orbit's vision is to establish a space logistics infrastructure to power a future $1 trillion ... read more

NASA, Partners to welcome private crew aboard Space Station

SpaceX and ESA collaborate on ISS mission featuring advanced german science experiments

Turkey's first astronaut set to boost Erdogan's ambitions

First European takes off on commercial flight to Space Station

Mexico Set for Space Sector Boost with New National Rocket and Space Center by Merida Aerospace

European crew poised for private mission to International Space Station

Axiom launches third mission to ISS, carrying European space hopes

SpaceX completes second launch Sunday, sends more satellites into orbit

Sols 4066-4070: Cracking Up

Mars Express unveils potential water resource for future Mars missions at equator

Buried water ice at Mars's equator?

So Many Textures, So Little Time: Sols 4070-4072

Yan Hongsen's future dreams as 'Rocket Boy'

China's Tianzhou 7 docks with Tiangong Space Station

China Prepares to Launch Tianzhou 7 Cargo Ship to Tiangong Space Station

Tianzhou 7 mission set to enhance operations at China's Tiangong Space Station

Momentus secures $4M through direct stock offering to institutional investor

Sidus Space Partners with ASPINA for Satellite Technology Demonstration on LizzieSat Mission

AST SpaceMobile Launches $100 Million Stock Offering Amid Strategic Tech Investments

MEASAT Partners with SpaceX as Official Reseller for Starlink Services in Key Markets

NASA's Transition to Commercial Space Networks: A Leap in Wideband Communication

Laser Instrument on NASA's LRO Successfully 'Pings' Indian Moon Lander

Intercontinental team to grow protein crystals in space

ESA advances satellite testing capabilities at Europe's largest thermal vacuum facility

ASU talk will examine ethical questions surrounding life in space

Key moment in the evolution of life on Earth captured in fossils

Study uncovers potential origins of life in ancient hot springs

Earth-sized planet discovered in 'our solar backyard'

New images reveal what Neptune and Uranus really look like

Researchers reveal true colors of Neptune, Uranus

The PI's Perspective: The Long Game

Webb rings in the holidays with the ringed planet Uranus

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.