Our Project Story

National Satellite Test Facility

STFC RAL Space | IBI Group

Science & Research

State-of-the-art space: tests for a new frontier.

The UK’s National Satellite Test Facility (NTSF) is an incredible project that forms part of the next phase in the UK’s space capability expansion. It’s being run by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space, the UK’s national laboratory which for the last 50 years has worked to advance the exploration of space and our environment for the benefit of everyone.

Vast scale.

To strengthen the UK’s position at the forefront of the space industry, two bespoke facilities are being created. The NTSF building is designed to test new satellites prior to sending them into orbit, and is capable of accommodating space craft that weigh seven metric tonnes. The heart of the facility will house one of the largest thermal vacuum chambers and some of the largest dedicated clean rooms in Europe. These will allow for a range of tough test conditions that replicate the conditions expected during launch and throughout the lifecycle of a spacecraft’s operation. Vibration and acoustic testing, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), centre of gravity testing, and pyroshock simulation are all independently contained, which means that two satellites can be tested in parallel.

Extreme engineering.

The second facility features a range of laboratory and workshop spaces, where specialist components and instrumentation will be manufactured and tested at the highest of tolerances. As such, each have conflicting requirements and environmental conditions. Our S&R team has worked closely with the client, resolving the unique challenges of this complex project by drawing on multi-discipline knowledge. The result will be a pioneering state-of-the-art facility for the UK space industry.

Key Figures
980m² 15M high cleanrooms
12m TVAC Chamber
300,000L Liquid Nitrogen