The newly built £116m National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), part of RAL Space, the UK’s national space lab on the Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire,  provides the UK with the facilities for the integration and testing of space payloads and satellites of up to 7000kg in a single building for the first time. It will enable companies to develop and test the next generation of large, complex spacecraft in the UK.


Access to these world-class facilities will enable UK industry to bid competitively for more national and international contracts and ensure the UK remains a world-leader in space technologies for decades to come.

Thomas Halliwell was contracted to power the facility during a complex and bespoke job that required the recreation of the environmental conditions of space for the testing of satellites and spacecraft.

The Thomas Halliwell team goes above and beyond to deliver effective solutions

Thomas Halliwell worked on the project for three years – from October 2020 until its completion in November 2023 – providing the power and data to the science and clean room areas of the facility.

The NSTF features clean rooms for large satellite preparation prior to and between tests, and vibration equipment, used to simulate the vibration of launch. The building also has a facility to simulate the acoustic environment during launch, as well as a large vacuum test chamber – 7m in diameter and 12m long – to simulate the thermal conditions of space, ranging from +130°C to –180°C.

And the NSTF has an electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) chamber, also known as an anechoic chamber, to provide an electrically clean environment where a satellite’s electromagnetic emissions can be accurately measured. This required Thomas Halliwell to power the chamber using isolating transformers.

The new facility was developed for The Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space and the principal contractor for the project was Mace, appointed under the southern construction framework. Thomas Halliwell provided power to the clean rooms for sub-contractor Asgard Controlled Environments and then powered the rest of the facility for Ametek and European EMC Products.

Rob Bridges, from Mace, said: “It was a privilege to work on this pioneering facility, which will secure the UK’s leading position in space technologies. It was a complex project that meant we had to bring together several innovative thinkers, including Thomas Halliwell, whose work to power the facility was outstanding.”

Lee Thomas, director of Thomas Halliwell, said:

“We were thrilled to have been part of such a prestigious project. This facility will make sure the UK remains a world-leader in space technologies for years to come. It was a complex job that required many bespoke solutions – including creating an electrically shielded space – but we carried them out with our meticulous attention to detail to ensure that spacecraft and satellites will be ready for take-off and for the harsh conditions of space.”

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