The following organisations provide access to a range of facilities:

RAL Space

Chilbolton Observatory – research station where experimental studies, primarily of the atmosphere, are conducted. The site is dominated by the fully steerable 25m antenna, which can host advanced powerful radars and also sophisticated sensitive receivers for satellite and astronomy work.

Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) – available for quick and efficient conceptual design of complex space programmes. The CDF has been developed by RAL Space Engineers, but incorporates the experience and best practice of other CDFs located overseas

Molecular Spectroscopy Facility – available for UK and international scientific research and development, offering world-class instruments combined with scientific and technical support.

Precision Development Facility (PDF) – set up within the Millimetre Wave Technology (MMT) Group to provide the very high accuracy machining required in the development of sub-millimetre wavelength receiver technology. As well as providing close project support at RAL, the facility undertakes development work for industry and a variety of government institutions.

Space Development and Test Facility – this will house: dedicated Optical Ground Support Equipment (OGSE) rooms; three Space Test suites; Vibration Facility; Clean Room Facilities with a total area of 1200m2U; UK Centre for Calibration of Satellite Instrumentation.

Space ground station – comprises of four antennas positioned across two sites. The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell has a 2.4m and a 12m antennae; located at Chilbolton, Hampshire are both 4.5m and 25m antennae. The ground station serves the scientific community and undertakes work for commercial clients.


Central Laser Facility – one of the world’s leading laser facilities with an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art ultra-high power and ultra-fast laser technologies that can be used in a broad range of applications.

Diamond Light Source – the UK’s national synchrotron science facility. Diamond is used by industry for studying fine atomic structures across the physical and life sciences using its highly controlled bright light sources from infrared to x-ray.

VELA – state-of-the-art electron accelerator facility available for industrial and academic usage on a highly flexible basis.

ISIS – provides unique insight into both the structure and dynamics of materials at the atomic level in real time.

Hartree Centre – dedicated to developing software to model, simulate and visualise the research and development of products.

Satellite Applications Catapult

3D HD Dual Projection Facility – equipped with state-of-the-art hardware and software for visualising and exploring large 2D and 3D datasets including virtual environments, engineering models and scientific information, ranging from Earth Observation and climate data to 3D models of complex molecules.

Co-Space – flexible, shared workspace for companies wanting to engage with the Catapult and other organisations in the Space sector. Includes hot desks bookable on a day-to-day basis to pre-assigned desks for unlimited use.

Demo Centre – available for SMEs, industry, researchers and academics within the space sector to use, demonstrate their capabilities, meet and network.

Operations Centre – provides an end-to-end centre for cost-effective satellite flight operations, payload data processing, and exploitation services.

SatComms Lab – provides facility to develop and test satellite-based technologies across a range of different satellite hardware. The lab consists of eight workstations that connect to the antenna farm (on the roof of the Catapult) and allow for various configurations to be set up and tested.

Security & Resilience Centre – accredited to operate as a secure classified facility, the Centre offers academia and SMEs the capability to trial classified ideas, and industry and government the opportunity to host systems which provide security capabilities and which might attract research.

Visualisation Suite – integrates with other facilities at the Catapult and the wider Harwell Oxford campus, including the Centre for Environmental Data Archival and the Concurrent Design Facility. Together with the Operations Centre, it forms an end-to-end solution for Earth Observation capabilities, from mission operations through data downlinks to data processing and visualisation.


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