The UK Space Agency National Propulsion Test Facility will allow UK companies and academia to test and develop space propulsion engines. The planned facility, based at Westcott, with its strong history of rocketry research for defence and space development, building on existing facilities.
The UK Space Agency investment will add new capabilities for the UK space sector. Government funding will:
* create a new vacuum facility at the Westcott propulsion test site. When used together with the existing industry owned rocket firing test cells, this will allow the simulation of high altitude testing of thrusters up to 2kN upgrade an existing industry owned test chamber to improve capabilities in the 25N thrust range
* open the facilities, alongside a smaller 1N thruster test chamber at the site, for the community to use
The UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), through its RAL Space facility will act as an independent broker for facility access. The European Space Agency (ESA) will be advising and overseeing the initial detailed design phase before a review in the autumn to move to full implementation.
This investment builds on what is already a world-class UK space propulsion sector. One of the industry stakeholders in the project, offering their facilities as part of the National Propulsion Test Facility, is Moog-UK. Moog-UK’s LEROS 1b engine recently placed the NASA Juno spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter following a 5-year journey to the gas giant.