ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in the Netherlands has been expanded with a new 350 sqm cleanroom to offer extra space to host satellites
The JUICE Thermal Development Model (TDM) inside the Large Space Simulator (LSS) at ESA's European Space Research & Technology Centre (ESTEC) Image credit: ESA
At approximately 3,000 sqm in area, ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, was already the largest satellite testing establishment in Europe. Now it has grown even bigger, with the formal opening of a new 350 sqm environmentally-controlled cleanroom beside it.
“The new cleanroom will offer extra space to host satellites as they come on site,” explains Gaetan Piret, overseeing the Test Centre. “It will also host our sensitive micro-vibration measurement facilities, used to characterise the very low vibration generated by mechanisms mounted aboard satellites.”
Formally known as the ‘FV’ cleanroom, it was declared open with a formal ribbon cutting by Marco Massaro, Head of ESA’s Estates and Facilities Management Division; Paulien van Essen, Regional Manager of lead builder Heijmans and Torben Henriksen, Head of ESTEC and ESA Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality.
Heijmans was selected for the expansion and the company's planned to have as little impact on the rest of the site as possible, allowing the rest of the Test Centre to continue nominal operations.
A drone-snapped image of ESA’s technical heart, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC in mid-2021. Image credit: ESA
“For this reason we rejected hammering in the piles,” explained Jan Trautmann of ESA Facilities Management, Managing the construction project. “Instead ‘cast in place’ piles were used, involving drilling deep holes, then lowering a steel reinforcement and filling them with concrete. This method generates much less noise and vibration.”
“This is the most beautiful cleanroom we have on site,” said Henriksen. “In our Test Centre there has been a shortage of cleanrooms for quite some time, especially with some programmes being based here for long durations – BepiColombo was here for some time, along with the Galileo satellites. So the need for expansion was clear.
“To start with an engineering model of the Smile satellite from China will soon be housed here, as well as several Galileo satellites. The construction process took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was a long journey to get to this point, but I’d like to thank Heijmans for their diligent work.”
Formal ribbon cutting by Marco Massaro, Head of ESA’s Estates and Facilities Management Division; Paulien van Essen, Regional Manager of lead builder Heijmans and Torben Henriksen, Head of ESTEC and ESA Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality. Image credit: ESA
Most of the time the ESTEC Test Centre has multiple test items within its walls simultaneously. Complex planning and traffic management are necessary to ensure every project get access to the facility they need at the time they need it. So sufficient room is needed to accommodate the different satellites and allow their movement between test facilities.
The FV cleanroom will also host the ESTEC Test Centre’s sensitive micro-vibration measurement facilities, which are used to characterise the very low vibration generated by mechanisms mounted aboard satellites, made possible by a large seismic block beneath the building.
The next step will be to construct a corridor linking the FV cleanroom with the environmentally controlled main Test Centre building.