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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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Energy Systems Test Area Facilities

    Energy Systems Test AreaEnergy Systems Test Area (ESTA) Aerial View
    Photo credit: NASA

    JSC’s Energy Systems Test Area (ESTA) provides test facilities and personnel involved in hardware evaluation and problem solving activities.  These activities encompass many of the fluid and energy conversion systems required for human exploration and development of space, including pyrotechnics,  power generation and storage, on-board propulsion, planetary resource utilization, fluid storage and distribution, and electromechanical and hydraulic actuation.  ESTA offers a unique combination of facilities and expertise capable of subjecting hardware components and systems to a wide range of test environments, including deep space vacuum and thermal, launch vibration, and high pressure exposure.

    The ESTA is located on one hundred and fifteen acres of land at the north end of JSC. It includes six specialized test facilities, which provide unique environmental simulations required to test many of the energy and fluid systems necessary for space vehicle and planetary systems development.  Facility isolation, strict access control, and organizational processes designed for hazardous operations allow testing of equipment and systems too dangerous for the main campus of JSC, yet not so dangerous that they must be tested off-site.  Remaining on JSC for testing is highly beneficial due to immediate accessibility to the test article and data, and the ease of on-site monitoring of testing.

    ESTA's History

    The ESTA has a strong heritage in the US Space Flight Program, contributing to the Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle, and Space Station programs. ESTA continues to support the Space Shuttle and Space Station Programs, and also provides evaluations and technology demonstrations that could benefit space and planetary programs of the future.

    The X-38 Crew Return Vehicle demonstration had several of its key systems validated at the ESTA, including laser initiated pyrotechnic devices, high pressure gaseous attitude control systems, and electromechanical actuators.

    Initial investigations into the practical implementation of In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars have been performed at the ESTA.  The Mars ISRU test bed at ESTA was used to validate the production of oxygen and methane propellants, as well as the liquefaction and storage of oxygen in a simulated Martian environment.  The Mars In-situ propellant production Precursor (MIP) flight demonstration was also tested and certified for flight on the cancelled Mars 2001 Surveyor mission at ESTA.  More recently, the extraction of oxygen from lunar regolith by hydrogen reduction is being evaluated and tested at ESTA.

    Also under investigation is the use of liquid oxygen (LOX) and various hydrocarbons attitude control systems for vehicles with long residence times in space, and   Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells with the associated challenges of zero-G fluid handling constituents.

    As JSC continues to support the human exploration and development of space and planetary habitats, ESTA will continue to play a major role in the development and qualification of spacecraft  systems.

Energy Systems Test Area Facilities

Technical Point of Contact

Facility Documentation

Featured Engineering Projects