The European Space Agency and Val Space Consortium renew their contract until 2020

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Val Space Consortium (VSC) have extended their contract until March 2020. Therefore, the ESA-VSC European High Power RF Space Laboratory (located at the Polytechnic City of Innovation, the Science Park of Universitat Politècnica de València), and the ESA-VSC European High Power Space Materials Laboratory (located at Escola Tècnica Superior d’Enginyeria – Burjassot campus of University of Valencia), will continue working in the coming years to provide support to the new challenges in the international space sector.

In the framework of the contract renewal, a meeting between VSC and the ESA head of the laboratories in Valencia, Mr. David Raboso, has taken place. From Val Space Consortium the following representatives have attended the meeting: the Regional Minister of Education, Culture and Sports, the Mayoress of Valencia and the Rectors of Universitat Politècnica de València and Universitat de València.

ESA centres of reference

The collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Val Space Consortium (VSC) began in March 2010 when both entities signed a contract for the joint management of the ESA-VSC European High Power RF Space Laboratory. This laboratory is specialized in RF breakdown phenomena (Multipactor, Corona and power handling) and passive inter-modulation (PIM). These harmful effects can affect negatively the communications of the satellites.

Two years later, in July 2012, the second ESA-VSC laboratory was opened. The ESA-VSC European High Power Space Materials Laboratory, located at University of Valencia, is specialized on investigating novel materials and surface treatments that could enhance the RF power capabilities in modern satellites.

Since 2010, the collaboration between ESA and VSC through both laboratories has been very satisfactory, providing support to important ESA missions as for example Galileo, Biomass, Sentinel, Alphasat and Bepi Colombo among others. The contract was initially signed for 5 years, until 25 March 2015, and now it has been extended for another 5 years until 25 March 2020.

Since the beginning of the ESA-VSC joint activities, many test campaigns have been carried out to the space industry, exceeding the initial expectations. The laboratories in Valencia are integrated in the ESA network of laboratories. They are also developing an important task on research and development in collaboration with the research groups of the Valencian, Spanish and European universities, creating opportunities for training and the involvement of students in the space sector.

Val Space Consortium

Val Space Consortium was created in March 2010 with the aim of combining all efforts that the Valencian entities hold in the space sector increasing their impact and international competitiveness.

Composed of Generalitat Valenciana (Regional Goverment), the city hall of Valencia, Universitat Politècnica de València and Universitat de València Estudi General, Val Space Consortium carries out scientific research and technological development services in any field related to the space sector, including the increase of safety and quality of production of space systems.

ESA-VSC Partnership renewal


Franco Ongaro, Director of ESA-ESTEC, visits ESA-VSC joint laboratories

Franco Ongaro, ESA’s Director of Technical and Quality Management, paid a visit to an essential Agency laboratory in Valencia, Spain, tasked with helping to keep high-power radio systems operating in space for years on end. The High Power Radio Frequency (RF) Laboratory is one of a network of ESA labs located all across Europe, each one covering different aspects of the space environment, making their expertise available to Agency missions as well as the wider space industry.

Director Ongaro runs the Directorate that owns and operates the lab jointly with the Valencia Space Consortium (VSC) – a non-profit organisation set up by Valencia’s two universities, its regional government and municipality.

Each year satellites are required to have more power when it comes to communicating with Earth. Modern RF communications systems operate up at multi-kilowatt power levels, but this can have potentially destructive side effects in the vacuum of space. The resulting strong magnetic fields can accelerate free-floating electrons to erode adjacent materials, known as ‘multipactor’. Or small amounts of surrounding gases can be ionised into glowing ‘corona’, possibly causing localised heating or lightning-like electrical discharges. Powerful outcoming antenna signals may also cause ‘passive intermodulation’ interference with weaker antennas.

The Lab’s role is to better understand and help avoid these risky phenomena for forthcoming missions, as well as troubleshoot any problems that arise with missions already in space.

Reference Center on High Power RF effects

The High Power RF Lab was founded back in the 1980s, tackling problems that arose as ESA developed its pioneering ERS Earth-observing radar missions. It was originally based at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands, but was moved to Valencia in 2010, in an effort to increase its employment by industry and researchers. The initial expectations have been exceeded for the facility’s use. In 2015 alone the Lab gave support to 18 major aerospace companies and supported ESA missions including Galileo, Biomass, SmallGeo, Meteosat and ExoMars.

The laboratory at UV

In June 2012 ESA and the VSC decided to open a second laboratory at the Engineering School of the Burjassot–Partnera Campus of the University of Valencia, devoted to the study of the effects of high-power RF systems on materials. The High-Power Space Materials Laboratory includes a pristine cleanroom for the examination of flight hardware and a suite of diagnostic tools. These materials are very important for space. The systems they are made from must stay operational under adverse conditions from 10 to 15 years – and cannot be repaired.

Both Labs are open to all aerospace companies as well as governments and research organisations. They operate on a non-profit basis, with revenues allocated to cover operating costs.

Visita UPV l

Visita UV