News

ESA and ETS representatives after contract signature (image credit ESA-K. Hristova)

ETS ensures its future beyond 2020

14 December 2018

ETS is proud to announce that the contract regarding the Management, Maintenance, Operations, Marketing & Sales of the ESTEC Test Centre Facilities for the period from 2019 to 2023 has been signed today. ESA’s Director of Technology, Engineering & Quality, Mr Franco Ongaro, signed the contract with the ETS’ Managing Director, Dr Jörg Selle, in the presence of Mr Torben Henriksen, Mr Gaetan Piret and Mr Benjamin Jeusset. ETS would like to thank ESA for placing their trust and confidence in its abilities to operate the ESA test centre. The ETS team is looking forward to continuing the great cooperation.

Vibration Test VEGA AVUM+ on the 640kN QUAD Shaker (image credit: ESA-G. Porter)

VEGA C AVUM+ Test campaign

23 November 2018

The VEGA C 4th stage (or Attitude Vernier Upper Module, AVUM+) vibration test campaign has successfully finished. ETS’ customer AVIO, VEGA prime contractor, has performed rigorous vibration testing of the AVUM+ on the QUAD and Multishaker. During more than 30 vibration test runs ETS acquired 450 data channels of acceleration and forces.

VEGA C is the latest evolution of the VEGA launch system with its main objective to increase performance and reduce operating cost. ESA is overseeing procurement and the architecture of the overall launch system, while industry is building the VEGA launcher.

MTG FCI STM inside the Large Space Simulator (image credit: ESA-G. Porter)

Flexible Combined Imager STM successfully tested

16 July 2018

Meteosat Third Generation’s (MTG) Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) is one of the two GEO-stationary satellite on-board instruments and successor of the current Meteosat’s Seviri instrument. The FCI provides solar and thermal spectral measurements in 16 channels for weather forecast.

The purpose of the STM thermal balance and vacuum test on the FCI was to validate the thermal control system of the instrument and the cryocooler (active cryostat at around 55K and common to the Imager S/C and the Sounder S/C). During the test the FCI turned in and out an artificial 6m sunbeam including eclipses to simulate the solar entrance into the instrument cavity (baffle).

For testing purposes, the FCI STM was mounted to a satellite sidewall simulator and connected to an electric power harness to simulate the power dissipation of on board equipment. The external harness was routed to a special supporting structure that accommodated multiple rotations between 0-360 degrees, allowing spinning of the instrument, eclipse and illumination by a 6m sunbeam of 1340W/m2.

ETS operated the Large Space Simulator in vacuum and thermal condition close to the space environment, with Thales Alenia Space France and OHB System AG in charge to conduct the test for various functional states of the instrument: e.g. survival, operational and transition modes, steady state and sensitivity of the cryostat.

MTG is a satellite series of four imaging and two sounding satellites for weather predictions. Thales Alenia Space France as MTG prime contractor and OHB System AG develop the satellites under responsibility of ESA on behalf of The European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). EUMETSAT will operate the satellites carrying in total four instruments for weather forecast and climate prediction.

DELFT HYPERLOOP on track at VTC 1.5 vacuum facility

23 May 2018

Delft Hyperloop, the overall winner of the 1st Hyperloop pod competition is on track for the 2018 competition that takes place this year on July 22nd. The team from Delft just finished a week of rigorous testing in vacuum environment using ESA’s VTC 1.5 vacuum facility that has a similar diameter as SpaceX’s test tube. The tests and their preparation have been supported by ESA and ETS.

A Hyperloop is a form of transportation by trains or pods travelling under vacuum to lower resistance and increase speed. SpaceX’s Hyperloop competition was created to increase development and innovation.

JUICE Thermal Mock up inside the LSS (copyright ESA)

JUICE TDM successfully performed thermal balance test in the Large Space Simulator

14 May 2018

The purpose of the JUICE thermal balance test was to validate the passive thermal control design of JUICE spacecraft in an early phase. During this test the a full scale Thermal Development Model (TDM) mock-up of the spacecraft was first exposed to a solar flux at 1.8 solar constant to simulate the Venus fly by, followed by a cold case without sun simulation and an additional balance phase at an intermediate solar flux intensity. The Large Space Simulator has been operated by ETS and the test was conducted by Airbus Defence and Space.

JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) is a large class ESA mission planned for launch in 2022 and arrival at Jupiter in 2029 where the spacecraft will observe and study the moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

Photo: Credit ESA-M.Cowan

Departure for Mercury

04 May 2018

After their arrival in 2014 and numerous environmental tests until end of 2017, the last items of the BepiColombo project will leave European Test Services (ETS) B.V. on May 7th. The Mercury Planetary Orbiter, Transfer module, Magnetic Orbiter and Sunshield have already been shipped to Kourou in French Guiana. The launch is scheduled for October 2018.

Four Antonovs 124 and one ship are needed to transport the satellites and their related support equipment to the launch site in Kourou French Guiana. Transport preparation, packing and air freight security screening have been already supported by ETS since end of 2017.

BepiColombo is a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership. The stacked spacecraft will arrive late 2025 at Mercury where the two orbiters are separated from the transfer module and sun shield. The orbiters will study Mercury’s atmosphere, gravity field, magnetosphere, surface and interior structure.

ETS awarded with contract for the MetOp-SG STM test campaign

29 January 2018

European Test Services (ETS) B.V. has been awarded with the environmental test contract for the MetOp Second Generation (MetOp-SG) prototype satellite.

Airbus Defence & Space SAS has contracted ETS to perform environmental tests on the MetOp-SG structural and thermal prototype satellite. The MetOp-SG satellites will orbit the Earth in pairs: one satellite series is equipped with optical instruments and atmospheric sounders, while the other satellite series is equipped with microwave instruments. Both series are based on Airbus’ Astrobus high-power satellite platforms, the prototype satellite will be a combination of the two different satellites to optimize the development time.

The MetOp-SG programme is a cooperative undertaking between ESA (the European Space Agency) and EUMETSAT (the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites). Their objective for MetOp-SG is to provide operational observations and measurements from polar orbit for numerical weather prediction and climate monitoring in the early 2020’s to mid-2040's timeframe. In addition, MetOp-SG will provide services to atmospheric chemistry, operational oceanography and hydrology.

As contractor for the Management, Maintenance, Marketing and Sales of the ESTEC Test Facilities, ETS will perform vibration, acoustic noise and space simulation tests in the frame of the MetOp-SG environmental test campaign. The tests will commence at the end of this year. Major challenges are the vibration and space simulation tests. For the vibration test on the QUAD shaker, 8 g quasi static acceleration is to be achieved on a total mass of 5 tons. In the Large Space Simulator a new motion system will be used for the first time, this system is able to simulate satellite movement and rotation as in orbit.

“The view expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.”

BepiColombo MTM PFM in the LSS (copyright Thales Alenia Space Italy)

BepiColombo successfully passes last environmental test

11 December 2017

BepiColombo is now heading for their departure from ETS/ESTEC and transport to Kourou after the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) successfully passed the thermal vacuum test in ESA's Large Space Simulator (LSS). During this test the MTM was not only exposed to 11000W/m2 to simulate the sun intensity close to Mercury but the four thrusters were also functionally verified by means of Xenon gas release up to 4mg/s. For this thrusters verification the LSS has been upgraded with additional cryogenic pumps to assure high vacuum during the Xenon release.
In the coming weeks the team from Thales Alenia Space Italy, Airbus and JAXA will be performing final leak tests and functional tests before packing their equipment to head to Kourou.

BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership.

BepiColombo MCS PFM in the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF)

BepiColombo mechanical test campaign full steam ahead

14 June 2017

BepiColombo is now heading for their vibration test after successfully passing the acoustic noise test in ESA's large European acoustic facility. All spacecraft modules are now in stacked configuration and will be shaken to qualify for launch.

In the coming weeks the team from Thales Alenia Space Italy, Airbus and JAXA will be analysing huge data sets acquired during the upcoming vibration test. After the vibration test, centre of gravity and moments of inertia will be determined and finally the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) undergoes its final space simulation test in ESA's Large Space Simulator.

BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership.

METOP C PLM inside LSS

MetOp C Payload Module FM3 Test Campaign at ETS/ESTEC

13 March 2017

After arrival in January this year, MetOp C Payload Module (PLM) is ready for thermal vacuum testing inside ESA's Large Space Simulator (LSS). From today the payload module will see vacuum and harsh space conditions for 3 weeks. During this period engineers from ESA, Airbus, CNES, NASA/NOOA, Thales and EUMETSAT will perform various functional tests. ETS is responsible for operating the LSS and additional thermal subsystems to supply with liquid nitrogen and Helium at 30K the instrument targets simulating deep space environment.

MetOp is a series of three satellites developed under responsibility of ESA and operated by the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). MetOp's payload module carries 11 scientific and meteorological instruments and the satellite provides Search and Rescue services.

BepiColombo MPO PFM on the mass properties measurement facility

BepiColombo mechanical test campaign started

03 March 2017

BepiColombo is now heading for their acoustic noise and vibration tests this Summer. Before all spacecraft modules will be stacked and shaken to qualify for launch, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter's (MPO) centre of gravity and inertia have been measured on ESA's mass property measurement facilities.

In the coming weeks the team from Thales Alenia Space, Airbus and JAXA is preparing each module to be integrated into a stacked spacecraft. After the vibration and acoustic tests, mass property measurements will be performed on the stack and finally the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) undergoes its final space simulation test in ESA's Large Space Simulator.

BepiColombo is Europe's first mission to Mercury and is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership.

Sentinel 2B packed into its container

Sentinel 2B completed its Test Campaign at ETS/ESTEC

28 November 2016

After its arrival mid of June 2016, the packing of the Sentinel-2B satellite last week into its container closes another successful chapter at ETS. The satellite and related equipment are now in storage before the cargo departs from Amsterdam Schiphol to Kourou in French Guiana early in January 2017.

Sentinel-2B is an earth observation satellite that is part of the Copernicus Programme. Its mission is to monitor land with a constellation of two satellites (Sentinel 2A launched in June 2015 and Sentinel-2B due for launch in March 2017) in order to provide multispectral high revisit and high resolution optical imagery of all land emerging masses and coastal areas.

As prime contractor, Airbus DS GmbH in Friedrichshafen is responsible for the design, development, manufacturing, integration and test of the satellite. ETS is responsible for the operation of ESA's test facilities.

Disclaimer: This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union and/or ESA.

Sentinel 2B (right) passing by BepiColombo MTM

Busy Summer at ETS/ESTEC

25 August 2016

Despite the summer holiday period the activities at ETS are continuing on a high level. For the first time in the company's history the ETS and the ESA test centre host a record number of eleven spacecraft at one time. This includes various flight models of the BepiColombo, Galileo and Sentinel programmes. ETS coordinates and manages the related test campaigns and operates the required facilities for customers Airbus, ESA, OHB and Thales Alenia Space Italy.

Sentinel 2B inside the Large Space Simulator

Sentinel 2B Test Campaign at ETS/ESTEC

21 July 2016

After arrival mid of June, Sentinel 2B just successfully finished thermal vacuum testing inside ESA's Large Space Simulator. Next planned test is the EMC test inside the Maxwell EMC chamber.

Sentinel-2B is an earth observation satellite that is part of the Copernicus Programme. Its mission is to monitor land with a constellation of two satellites (Sentinel 2A) in order to provide high resolution optical imagery by a Multispectral Imager.

As prime contractor, Airbus DS GmbH is responsible for the design, development and integration of the satellite. ETS is responsible for the operation of ESA's test facilities.

Disclaimer: This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union and/or ESA.

Mercury Planetary Orbiter in the Maxwell EMC Facility

BepiColombo MPO PFM successfully finishes Radiated EMC test

16 December 2015

Last week the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) flight model has successfully finished its Radiated EMC Test in the Maxwell EMC facility. The test was composed out of EMC launcher compatibility, MPO EMC auto-compatibility and radiofrequency auto-compatibility.

The MPO is ESA's scientific contribution to the BepiColombo mission to Mercury and has been developed and integrated by Airbus Defence & Space and Thales Alenia Space Italy.

In order to perform the Radiated EMC test a dedicated setup has been provided by ETS in cooperation with 'Machinefabriek West-End B.V.' This setup consists of a base frame which support the MPO multipurpose trolley including MPO and the motion / turning system for the RF transparent tower supporting the high gain antenna. With the aid of the motion system it was possible to adjust the MPO high gain antenna exactly in the required test position.

The next BepiColombo test is the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) Thermal Vacuum and Balance Test in ESTEC's Large Space Simulator.

CHEOPS SQM in the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF)

CHEOPS SQM successfully finishes Acoustic Noise Test

09 November 2015

Last week CHEOPS SQM has successfully finished acoustic noise testing in the LEAF.

The Characterising EXOPlanet Satellite (CHEOPS) is provided by Airbus Defence & Space Spain, the CHEOPS mission is a partnership between Switzerland and ESA's science programme. This mission is dedicated to search for transits by means of ultrahigh precision photometry on bright stars already known to host planets.

In a few months the PFM test campaign will start for which ETS will perform the Acoustic and EMC tests.

IXV PFM on QUAD Vibration Facility

Successful finish of IXV PFM Test Campaign

18 September 2014

The IXV PFM Test Campaign at ETS/ESTEC has successfully finished and in the next days IXV and its supporting equipment will be transferred to Kourou for launch in November this year.

Within three months mass property measurements, vibration tests, acoustic noise tests and a shock release test have been accomplished plus all kinds of functional tests to pass flight qualification.

The Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) is a European Space Agency (ESA) experimental re-entry vehicle intended to validate
European reusable launchers. Prime contractor of IXV is Thales Alenia Space Italia SpA.

Heat Shield in front of High Flux Shroud

Solar Orbiter Heat Shield finishes Thermal Balance Test

16 May 2014

This week the Solar Orbiter Heat Shield has successfully finished thermal vacuum testing in the LSS by applying 10 times the
normal sun intensity in an Earth orbit onto the Heat Shield!
The Solar Orbiter spacecraft is being developed by Airbus Defence & Space UK under an ESA contract. Thales Alenia Space Italia
is responsible for the spacecraft's Heat Shield.