Airbus Defence and Space

LISA Pathfinder passes tests with flying colours

Delivered to ESTEC (ESA’s test centre) in The Netherlands last summer, LISA Pathfinder has been undergoing a rigorous series of tests designed to validate its design parameters and response to the launch environment.

The three modules tested – structure model science module, flight science module and flight propulsion model – were subjected to acoustic, separation shock and sine burst tests.

During the separation shock tests, pyrotechnics were fired to measure the mechanical disturbance resulting from the separation between the flight propulsion and science module and also between the propulsion module and launcher. In flight the shock absorbed is in the range of 500g.

The acoustic tests were performed in the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF) and provided essential information to verify the design and test environments of sensitive spacecraft components and payload.

During the series of tests, both science modules also underwent a sine burst test, which involved them being shaken at a fixed frequency to qualify them against the launcher environment.

The modules will now be returned to Stevenage where the complete build will now start.


About LISA


LISA’s potential mission will detect and observe gravitational waves (ripples) that are emitted during the most powerful events in the universe. It will detect gravitational radiation from astronomical sources, observing galaxies far back in time and testing the fundamental theories of gravitation. As predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the ripples are created during events in which massive objects undergo strong acceleration – such as black holes swallowing neutron stars or the collision of two immense black holes.

LISA Pathfinder’s mission will be to both test critical LISA technologies in space and to perform the first in-flight tests of gravitational wave detection metrology.

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