Science and Technology Facilities Council
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New Space science laboratory offers £27.7m boost to UK's space industry

Yesterday marked a giant leap for the UK space industry as 2 major new space facilities are opened at the UK Space Gateway in Oxfordshire including the new STFC RAL Space integration and test facility ‘R100’.

Speaking at the inauguration event the Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson said yesterday:

“With the heritage of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory it would be hard to find another facility that has done more to establish the credentials of UK space science. We set the standard for space science technology and British ingenuity is helping mankind look back at the formation of our universe to see the first stars and galaxies, and nothing could be more exciting or thrilling than that.

And space science is of course not just an end in itself, but as one of our 8 great technologies satellite technology underpins so many of our key industrial sectors.

This new facility means the UK now has one of the best testing facilities anywhere in the world, and I’m delighted to be part of the opening of the R100 Development and Test Facility today”

Dr Chris Mutlow, Director of RAL Space said

“Our new integration and test facility provides capability for the needs of the next generation of spacecraft and instruments, and will contribute to the growing community of space focussed businesses, capabilities and skills located at the Harwell Campus space Gateway.”

“Our R100 building is a major expansion of our test facilities; including two new 5m diameter Space Test Chambers along with a vibration facility, clean rooms and AIV (Assembly, Integration and Verification) control room. With Phase 2 of the project currently expected to be completed by June 2017 these are incredibly exciting times to be working at RAL Space”.

The first instrument to arrive for calibration in Phase 1 of this new state of the art facility will be the ESA Sentinel 4 UVN (Ultra-violet/Visible/Near-infrared) instrument, which is destined for geo-stationary orbit forms part of Copernicus, the European Earth observation programme.

Yesterday also saw the opening of the new ECSAT building – the European Space Agency’s (ESA) home in the UK. ESA’s UK facility has been developing steadily since 2008, following the UK government’s decision to increase its contribution to ESA and the new building will host 120+ jobs including teams in telecommunications and integrated applications. Special emphasis will be put on the development of new markets for satellite-based services and applications. The building will also house the Earth Observation Climate Office, Science and Exploration teams and Technology and Quality Management teams supporting ESA research and development programmes in the UK, focusing on ‘game-changing’ technologies and capabilities.


Sarah Smart
Head of Communications, RAL Space
Tel: 01235 445742
Mob: 07837634683

Notes for editors

RAL Space based at STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), carries out an exciting range of world-class space research and technology development. We have significant involvement in over 200 space missions and are at the forefront of UK Space Research.

We undertake world-leading space research and technology development, provide space test and ground-based facilities, design and build instruments, analyse and process data and operate S- and X-band ground-station facilities, as well as lead conceptual studies for future missions. We work with space and ground-based groups around the world.

Our 200 staff are dedicated to supporting the programmes of the STFC and the Natural Environment Research Council, as well as undertaking a large number of space projects for UK and overseas agencies, universities and industrial companies.

We work alongside the UK Space Agency who co-ordinate UK civil space activities.


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