New National Rocket Test Facility unveiled for Westcott
A new national rocket test facility has been opened in Buckinghamshire.
Based at the Westcott Space Cluster and within the Aylesbury Vale Enterprise Zone, the new centre will allow UK companies and academics to test state-of-the-art propulsion engines used to move small satellites in space. It will also allow new types of more sustainable propellants, such as Hydrogen Peroxide and Liquid Oxygen, to be tested.
The facility, which was unveiled by Science Minister Amanda Solloway, received £4 million in funding from the UK Space Agency, is the only facility of its kind in the UK and one of only 3 in the world. It will create around 60 jobs. The new facility will allow innovation in propulsion technology, as well as the cost-effective development and testing of even more powerful engines for interplanetary travel, and to drive forward the significant commercial telecommunications satellite market. See the opening video here.
Paul Britton, CEO of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce commented,
“The new facility, based in heart of the Thames Valley, will help grow the UK’s status as a leading space player and this region’s key role within it. The growing cluster centred on Westcott is quickly establishing itself as an important and integral part of the UK space sector growth strategy with a nucleus of companies supporting rocket and satellite enabled research and development projects”.
Nigel MacKenzie, Westcott Development Manager said,
“It was great to welcome Science Minister, Amanda Solloway to Westcott. This is yet another leap forward for the development of Westcott in Buckinghamshire as a centre of excellence in the space propulsion and associated high-tech industries.
“Future Investment will ensure Westcott’s place at the heart of the UK space industry. Over the next 10 years, Westcott will become the UK Centre for the next generation of propulsion systems and small satellite manufacture.”
UK Government’s Science Minister Amanda Solloway said,
“This pioneering facility will support our ambitious space businesses, enabling them to undertake complex spacecraft engine testing, while boosting the local economy by creating highly skilled jobs.”
Putting this into context, the Size and Health of the UK Space Industry report published May 2021 shows the UK space sector ‘is booming’. Income from the UK space sector rose from £14.8 billion in 2016/17 to £16.4 billion in 2018/19, representing growth of 5.7% in real terms. Employment increased by 3,200 from 41,900 to 45,100.
Read more here.