ESA Space Power Laboratory

In operation since the 1970s, the ESA Space Power Laboratory is among Europe's leading facilities of this kind. The ESPL performs tests related to all aspects of satellite power systems and equipment, including power conditioning to manage and convert onboard electricity, solar generators based on photovoltaic cells converting sunlight into electrical power as well as space cells and batteries to keep missions operational in all circumstances.

For general enquires regarding this TEC location please refer to the assigned contacts:

ESA Space Power Laboratory

Point of contact
For testing requests, access to lab facilities, training and consultancy services, please refer to:


TPA Management system

Tests related to all aspects of satellite power systems and equipment

The ESPL provides

an independent and impartial evaluation of power system designs 

for ESA programmes, R&D prototypes and Third-Parties activities. 

They cover:

Characterisation testing of critical power supply components and breadboards
Failure investigation
Environmental testing, e.g. thermal cycling and life test of solar array coupons
Power converter design validation, by e.g. linking them to solar array simulators
High voltage testing in ambient, partial pressure and vacuum conditions
Solar array and cells inspections and performance measurement under simulated sun
Long-term multi-year space battery testing including thousands of charge/discharge cycles
Qualification and acceptance of payloads
Support of launch campaign preparation including health check assessment of batteries
Studying age-based battery phenomena such as self-discharging and memory effects
Software modelling of batteries and solar cells
Support to and preparation of R&D activities and standardisation


The Battery and Life Test Facility (BLTF) is primarily devoted to testing both primary and secondary cells and batteries of any chemistry. The high flexibility of the test platform allows for a variety of long term component and equipment electrical testing in well controlled environmental conditions. It is organised around automated long-term lifetime-testing stations for batteries and cells, plus vacuum test chambers, an inert atmosphere facility for cell Destructive Physical Analysis and abuse test chambers enabling safe testing of small cells in critical conditions like overcharge and external short-circuit test.

Key benefits of the work with BLTF

  • Independent investigations and assessments
  • Independent guidance and expertise in cell and battery testing
  • Reliable testing infrastructure to allow lifetime testing for many years
  • Rapid investigations in case of anomalies or failures
  • Evaluation of new technologies before applications in projects
  • Coordination with other laboratory at ESA to include mechanical testing in the overall test campaign


Instruments & technical parameters

  • Long-term automatic life-testing benches
  • Real time and remote data access
  • Supplies and loads capable up to 600A and 240V
  • Thermal chambers with temperatures ranging from -70 to 180°C, including dry nitrogen flushing
  • Peltier cold plates capable of emulating spacecraft radiators; natural and forced convection
  • Vacuum test chambers (down to 1X10-6 mbar)
  • Abuse test chamber for cells and small batteries
  • Glove box (inert atmosphere facility)
  • Advanced data processing for loading, processing, analysis, visualization of test data



The Solar Generator Characterisation Facility (SGCF) includes permanent and pulsed solar simulators. Thermal chambers to allow accelerated aging tests in both low and high temperatures. The spectral response equipment permits the detailed characterisation of multi-junction solar cells, while the electroluminescence test equipment can accurately identify and characterise solar cells anomalies or failures.

The facility can also provide optical microscopy down to metallographic resolution and dedicated photographic equipment is available to perform a thorough visual inspection.

Main parameters

Large Area Pulsed Solar Simulator, with spectrally tunable lamp

Portable flasher (3x3 m2), to perform tests on customer’s premises

Three and Four zones steady light simulator with temperature control

Spectral response at low and high temperatures (-180°C to +200°C)

Electroluminescence (ELM) and Infrared (IR) semi-automatic inspection frame

Uniformity mapper, composed of 25 silicon sensors to measure the target plane’s uniformity in one go

SGCF / Instruments

1. Large Area Pulsed Solar Simulator – Pasan   

For absolute electrical characterisation of large solar panels up to 3 meters in diameter.

Test plane area:

3x3 m2 (diameter), 8 m from the lamphouse


Better than 1.5% inside 2.5x2.5 m2

+/- 2.0% inside 3x3 m2

Low/high intensity measurements:

Voltage range:

0 to 200 V

Current range: 0 to 50 A

Total system error:

Less than ±1.5%

Lamp life:

Over 5000 flashes

INTA uniformity mapper for characterization of LAPSS

SGCF / Instruments

2. Portable Mini-flasher (Pasan)

Comparative electrical performance measurements of solar cell coupons, panels and solar arrays

Test plane area:

3x3 m2 (diameter), 8 m from the lamphouse

Low/high intensity measurements:

  • ELM inspection system and frame (Astrium Ottobrunn & ADS NL)
  • TS Space & Almaspace Solar Cell Electrical Performance Measurement System
  • IR inspection for shunt diodes and solar cells.
  • Triple and four Junction bare and solar cells assemblies electrical performance at different temperatures
  • Spectral responsivity measurement system for three junction solar cells at different temperatures


  • Spectral range: 350 to 1900 nm.
  • Stabilized optical path with integrating sphere



The Accelerated Life Test Facility (ALTF) performs thermal cycling and life tests. 

This facility contains two thermal cycling chambers (ATC-3 and ATC-5) that aim to significantly decreased the duration of thermal cycling test campaigns of solar cells and coupons. Like the SGCF, the capabilities of the ALTF are being continuously upgraded to cope with upcoming solar cell and solar array technology needs.

The equipment includes:

  • Two thermal cycling chambers
  • A life test facility to cover the entire mission life with margin

Solar cell life test facility 

The system is used to perform solar cell life test under vacuum conditions and one solar constant. The test can be done with the cell on loaded or reverse condition.

Close match to AM0 (type A).

  • Lamp: Xenon 2500 W.
  • Lamp life: 2000 hours.
  • Spectral range: 300-1850 nm.
  • Uniformity: ± 3% in 300 mm diameter.
  • Stability: ± 2%.


  • Vacuum level: 10E-7 mbar.
  • Test area: 300 mm in diameter.
  • Temperature range: 60 to 400 deg C.


Ambient pressure fast thermal cycling for solar cell and mechanical samples

  • Cold chamber: Liquid Nitrogen heat exchanger.
  • Hot chamber: Heating resistors.
  • Fluid over test samples: Dry Nitrogen.
  • Test chamber dimensions: 300x250x160mm.
  • Operational temperature range: -180°C / +180°C
  • Test chamber temperature spatial uniformity: Max ± 5°C.
  • Cooling/Heating Speed (0°C): 300°C/min & 200°C/min. (maximum change rates).
  • Optional Illumination at 1 Solar Constant


The PCF is equipped to design and test electrical circuits and power supplies. The facilities include: individually equipped electronic workbenches, solar array simulators, DC power supplies, electronic loads, specialised equipment for verifying conventional and maximum power point tracking, network analysers, compact thermal and thermal vacuum chambers, thermal cameras, data logging. The facility is equipped for the design and prototyping of power electronics breadboards, including PCB and transformer production, and a stock of conventional components and some flight spares.

PCF Instruments & technical parameters

Prototyping and Test:

  • Switching Power Converters
  • Solar Array Regulation (S3R, MPPT Buck)
  • Battery Charge and Discharge Regulators
  • Secondary Power Supplies
  • Latching Current Limiters
  • Analogue and Digital Electronics
  • Signal Conditioning

PCF Test Equipment:

  • 8 individual workbenches
  • Power supplies and programmable power supplies
  • Solar array simulators
  • Electronic loads and programmable electronic loads
  • High precision bench and handheld DMM including data logging
  • Function generators and network analysers
  • Oscilloscopes including mixed signal, differential voltage probes, current probes
  • Thermal chamber and thermal vacuum chamber
  • IR thermometers and cameras
  • A range of specialised equipment


The High Voltage Facility is equipped to test high voltage electronic power supplies and insulation. The equipment includes partial discharge test equipment, high voltage power sources - up to 65kV DC and 40kV AC - plus a combined thermal vacuum chamber and Faraday cage, with additional thermal and thermal-vacuum chambers, insulation testers and protected high voltage workspaces.


Instruments & technical parameters

  • Power supplies up to 65kV DC and 40kV AC
  • Partial discharge testing AC (<0.5pC noise floor)
  • DC isolation testing, including pico-ammeter
  • Function generators, network analysers, electronic loads, oscilloscopes, DMMs
  • HV meter, oscilloscope and DMM probes
  • Automated breakdown testing (short term and endurance testing)
  • Protected HV workspaces and chambers, shielded, thermal and thermal vacuum
  • HV components stock (resistors, capacitors, diodes)
  • HV connections stock (corona rings, spheres, connectors, cables)

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Learn more about the ESPL Laboratory 

For further information regarding the access to the laboratory

Contact us via Email

ESA Space Power Laboratory

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