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General Inquiry: Associate Director, Engineering Directorate
Phone: 281.483.8991

Mailing Address:
National Aeronautics & Space Administration
Johnson Space Center
Mail Code: EA
2101 NASA Parkway
Houston, Texas 77058

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Test Facilities Guide

Engineering Test Facilities Guide

Download the Engineering Test Facilities Guide (PDF).

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Electronic Systems Test Laboratory

    Electronic Systems Test Laboratory

    The Electronic Systems Test Laboratory (ESTL) is a unique National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facility where multi-element crewed spacecraft communications systems are interfaced with relay satellites and ground elements for end-to-end testing in a controlled Radio Frequency (RF) environment. This facility is used for design evaluation, RF interface compatibility, and system performance verification testing of spacecraft RF communications systems and their interfaces with external (e.g., ground stations, relay satellites, detached payloads) elements. Space vehicle communications equipment is unlike other spacecraft systems since it interfaces not only with other equipment on the space vehicle but also with external equipment that is remotely located. The interface with the external equipment (e.g., relay satellites, ground terminals) serves as the lone link between the Earth-based elements and the space vehicles. Thus, communications verification testing between the external elements and the equipment on a crewed or unmanned space vehicle or high-valued payload is mandatory for successful flights.

    Tests are performed by operating the space, ground, and relay satellite communication systems simultaneously in a manner that accurately reflects actual space-to-space and space-to-ground mission configurations.

    Services Provided

    • End-to-end, high-fidelity communication test bed
      • Performance characterization of space communication systems
    • In-depth RF communications performance verification and characterization testing for spaceflight programs
      • Unique test bed for communication systems life-cycle testing
      • Sustaining engineering support during program life
    • RF characterization testing for payloads, satellites, or other unmanned vehicles
    • RF anomaly resolution test bed – prelaunch, real-time, and postflight
    • Support to Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) Network verification/validation tests, Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) checkout, TDRSS Network Firmware checkouts
    • Advanced Communication Protocols Test Bed
      • Evaluation and certification testing of various protocol systems in an end-to-end controlled environment
      • Versatility allows for evaluation of communication, instrumentation, biomedical, guidance and navigation, computation, and robotics systems
    • Avionics Government-Furnished Equipment (GFE) development and verification testing
    • Research and Development (R&D) test bed for spacecraft communications
    • Analysis model verification
      • Actual test results used to refine analysis communication models
    • Ultra-High Frequency (UHF), S-Band, Ku-Band, and Ka-Band RF spectrum
    • Shielded enclosures
    • Breadboard to flight hardware

Technical Point of Contact

Facility Documentation

Featured Engineering Projects