As the UK’s first comprehensive set of space test facilities at this scale, the NSTF will enable UK industry to build bigger, more technologically-advanced satellites and test them in the UK. It will be run by UKRI’s expert space hub, RAL Space, part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. Ultimately the facilities will strengthen the UK’s world-leading position and allow it to bid competitively for more national and international contracts for decades to come.

Technical Challenges

As the clean rooms & test chambers electrical and mechanical equipment support the preparation and checking of satellites before and between tests it was not possible to adopt the “usual” method of electrical installation & control, as taking this approach would interfere with the testing equipment. Therefore an electrically clean environment had to be guaranteed and as such a new approach to installation and commissioning undertaken.

Resolution of Challenges

The accuracy of the environmental control within the test areas meant that ATS’s innovative solution ensured the integration between the third party system’s are all monitored and optimum testing conditions are maintained at all times. However, this method is unproven and as such technical uncertainties can only be overcome whilst carrying out the commissioning & testing in a live environment. ATS faced significant engineering challenges in achieving the highest level of control and ensuring no electrical interference from the control instruments all whilst working within the confines of a construction programme.