Mace has completed the exterior of The National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), reaching a major build milestone in the process of becoming the UK’s first co-located set of space test facilities
The National Satellite Test Facility being delivered by Mace, procured under the Southern Construction Framework, has been funded by the UK Research and Innovation as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Mace is also working on the Electromagnetic Compatibility Chamber (EMC) – which will offer an area free from electromagnetic background noise, where spacecraft electronics can be checked and tested.
The suspension system, the first of the vibration equipment, has been successfully installed on the reaction masses, the two 250 tonne blocks on which the vibration system will stand.
At the NSTF, two 222 kN thrust shakers will be used to simulate the vibration of launch and test the satellite in 3 axes, the equivalent of a fully-loaded 25 seater bus being strapped to the top of a jackhammer.
Over the next few months, this will be joined with copper wall and ceiling panels to create a copper shield that electromagnetic waves cannot pass.
Inside this ‘quiet’ zone satellite manufacturers will be able to accurately measure the noise that satellite antennae produce, ensuring that we get a high-quality signal back for our TVs, weather forecasts and science operations.
Providing a stable environment
Rob Bridges, project director at Mace, said: “It is an honour to be leading the international multi-disciplinary team delivering the NSTF.
“From the first design workshop, my team have been challenged to bring together a blend of technologies and innovations to design and deliver a future-proofed flexible building that will not only house specialist testing equipment but is required to be integral to the testing providing a stable environment, whilst using the structure as a dynamic part of the testing process.”