British rocket research is set to take-off with a £4.12m investment in a new National Propulsion Test Facility
The new National Propulsion Test Facility is set to be located at Westcott, Buckinghamshire. A location with an existing history of research for defence and space propulsion development.
The Westcott propulsion test site will have a new vacuum facility which (when used with existing industry rocket firing test cells) will allow simulation of high altitude testing for thrusters up to 2kN. The funding also means that existing industry owned test chambers can be improved, allowing for testing up to 25N.
The STFC (UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council) will be in charge of access to the facility, while the ESA (European Space Agency) will oversee the design phase of the project. It is hoped that the designs will be completed before this autumn.
A key stakeholder in the facilities development is Moog-UK, whose LEROS 1b pushed Juno into orbit around Jupiter last week.
Katherine Courtney, the UK Space Agencies interim CEO explained the investment “will add several new capabilities to the UK space sector and build upon what is already a world-class UK space propulsion sector.”
The News of the investment comes the same week that Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines, signed a €10m deal to develop a ground-based demonstrator of its Sabre engine for the European Space Agency.