ESR Technology, with the support of the European Space Agency (ESA), operates the European Space Tribology Laboratory (ESTL), Europe's focus for expertise in space tribology.

Documentation and reports covering the past 40 years of research at ESTL is available to companies of ESA Member States in the Members Area. Please register on this page for access to this information.

Keeping Space moving through quality solutions to friction and wear

ESTL specialises in providing solutions to friction, wear and lubrication issues relating to the precision mechanisms that operate in the vacuum environment of space, or in terrestrial vacuum applications. Over the past 40 years, ESTL has been involved in virtually every major European Space programme, with no known failures in orbit.

ESTL delivers solutions by offering a flexible combination of specialist products and services: 

  • Tribology – we have many years of tribological data from which we have developed processes and design tools. We also provide consultancy and training
  • Testing – we have years of experience performing thermal vacuum and tribometer tests and regularly undertake life, qualification and acceptance testing for our customers. ESTL is an ESA-approved test centre
  • Lubrication – we provide a range of high quality and space qualified solid and liquid lubrication products
  • Mechanisms – we offer a design support capability as well as a high quality mechanism component and subassembly build service. We also supply niche mechanical components to other mechanism suppliers
  • Transfer – we transfer these specialist technologies developed for space into terrestrial vacuum markets such as the medical and semiconductor industries


  • 185m2 cleanroom (Class 10,000/M5.5) with Class 100/M3.5 assembly area for the assembly of mechanisms
  • A range of 19 vacuum chambers from 150 mm to 1 m, with working temperatures from -150 to +150 C to test mechanisms and their components
  • Physical vapour deposition chambers for applying our solid lubricant products
  • Tribometers for the generation of fundamental friction and wear data
  • Comprehensive range of dedicated test facilities
  • Supporting equipment, instrumentation and IT


  • Lubrication of more than 5,000 bearings for spaceflight applications
  • Testing of over 300 spacecraft mechanisms
  • Building of more than 250 space mechanisms including SADM baseplates, reaction wheel motors and bearing cartridges and deployable booms
  • Development of the unique Bearing Active Preload System (BAPS) which allows both high bearing preload during launch and low preload during in-orbit operation
  • Training of over 400 delegates on our bi-annual Space Tribology Course
  • Authorship of the Space Tribology Handbook

ESTL is a member of the UK Space SME Forum / ASTOS

ESTL is a registered trademark.