Space hardware design, as well as that for hardware destined to work in 1-g environment, needs to be submitted to a complete design verification process before final utilisation in nominal conditions.
As space hardware ground verification is difficult and expensive, a design verification philosophy has been developed in order to reach, as far as possible, the highest degree of space hardware reliability and usability and hence to increase crew productivity via a perfect integration of man and machines.
This activity is mainly based on a complete hardware testing process (first on ground, then in microgravity simulated environment and, at the end, during a short duration space mission) and on a correct test procedure preparation in order to avoid inconveniences during test execution.
Opportunity for an application of the design verification philosophy has been given by Columbus Precursor Flights and the related MIRIAM '95 programme. In this framework some Crew Support Equipment has been developed, manufactured and submitted to a testing phase in order to verify all aspects of its design in preparation for the final on-orbit testing phase, the last step to finalise the hardware design to be used during long duration space missions.
This paper describes how tests have been prepared and performed on ground, on parabolic flights and in neutral buoyancy facility, and how results have been collected and analysed to complete a usability test campaign prior to the final on-orbit testing phase.
Specifically the paper shows how, approaching the test activity, test aims have been located and emphasized (as past experiences recommended) in order to guarantee a correct and profitable test execution. As test environments (mainly parabolic flights and neutral buoyancy) are exploitable with certain limitations, a detailed requirement analysis has been performed to identify the aspects to be tested in more suitable test conditions.