• Satellite Test Facility Construction Progresses Forward
    The Front of the UK's National Satellite Test Facility (Credit: STFC RAL Space)
  • Large Space Test Chamber built by ASC (Credit: STFC RAL Space)

News & Views

Satellite Test Facility Construction Progresses Forward

Jan 16 2021

The National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), the first of its kind in the UK that will help more complex spacecraft get ready for launch, continues to take shape at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) Space site in Oxfordshire. More than 900 tonnes of steel framework and 3000mᶟ of concrete completed the main structure of the £105 million test centre last October. Construction partners Mace have since installed the suspension system for the vibration facility; this will test satellites and payloads up to 7000 kg to ensure that they can withstand the bumpy ride into space. Work is also being carried out on an Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) chamber – an area free from electromagnetic background noise, where spacecraft electronics can be checked and tested.

Professor Chris Mutlow, Director of RAL Space said: “We are well on our way to opening our doors to the space sector. Large satellites require at least 6 months of testing before they're launched and this becomes longer and more expensive if all the test equipment is in different places. It's fantastic to see the test equipment shaping up under one roof. The space sector in the UK is thriving and we're looking forward to offering this one-stop-shop to support the development of larger and more advanced spacecraft in the UK." 

Rob Bridges Project Director for Mace said: “It is an honour to be leading the international multi-disciplinary team delivering the NSTF. From the first design workshop my team have been challenged to bring together a blend of technologies and innovations to design and deliver a future proofed, flexible building that will not only house specialist testing equipment but is required to be integral to the testing providing a stable environment, whilst using the structure as a dynamic part of the testing process."

The NSTF, being delivered by Mace and procured under the Southern Construction Framework, has been funded by the UK Research and Innovation as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

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