The lab is an impartial authority – decades of accumulated experience to back up project teams, equipped to carry out a wide variety of tests inhouse, or turn to a network of external facilities when required.
The Materials and Electrical Components lab supports ESA projects through all stages of development, including on-orbit troubleshooting. Accuracy is very important, and so is speed: It aims to schedule critical activities to keep projects on track. It also carries out its own verification of industrial work contributing to a project, and can advise on improving manufacturing processes as needed. The lab can also advise on non-ESA space projects depending on its availability.
Preventative work now, down on the ground, is important to ensure mission success and to minimise risks. Failure really isn’t an option for spacecraft and launchers beyond a set range of redundant systems – to work as planned, the component parts going into a mission have to perform perfectly. The lab’s work gives confidence this will indeed be the case.
The lab’s various specialists join forces to generate synergies: Materials and processes experts assess how the spacecraft is put together, with what materials, and in what way. Then the electrical component experts assess the functioning of the electrical, electronic and electro-mechanical components, the fundamental building blocks of a space mission.