Giant space test chamber to test satellites has arrived at Harwell Campus
A 16m long, 98 tonnes, space test chamber, is being installed in the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. This major piece of new equipment will help get larger, more complex satellites ready for launch and is amongst the giants of Europe.
The Large Space Test Chamber will test spacecraft of up to 7 tonnes for the harsh conditions of space including extreme temperatures from -180°C to +100°C. Businesses from the UK and abroad will be able to test spacecraft up to the size of a minibus as well as fleets of shoe box-size satellites. The chamber can be heated and cooled using nitrogen cooled shroud panels to achieve a temperature range of 95 Kelvin to 373 Kelvin to (-180°C to +100֯C) so that satellites can be tested for missions into the chill of deep space or near to the Sun.
The Chamber is due to open at Harwell in 2022 where it will be an integral part of the Harwell Space Cluster, operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space. Located alongside other test equipment at the NSTF, the aim will be to enable UK businesses to bid competitively for new contracts and remain a world leader in space technologies.
“Expanding the UK’s satellite testing capabilities is vital to ensuring the UK space sector can continue to grow in strength and numbers. Any space company can use this new state-of-the-art facility, on commercial terms, enabling more UK companies to take on larger scale projects and drive innovation across the sector.”
Dr Joanna Hart, Space Cluster Manager, Harwell Campus
“The UK is a world-leader in space technology and this impressive new chamber, backed by government funding, will significantly bolster our satellite testing capabilities. Importantly, it will ensure that our space industry has the first-class facilities they need to test large, complex spacecraft as we work towards the UK’s first satellite launch.”
Amanda Solloway, Science Minister
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