We are creating a unified UKRI website that brings together the existing research council, Innovate UK and Research England websites.
If you would like to be involved in its development let us know.

UK space sector booming with more jobs on the way

6 December 2018

The Harwell Space Cluster in Oxfordshire is growing from strength to strength with 150 new jobs created in the last year and many more on the way in 2019.

The UK’s space technology cluster in Oxfordshire has announced that employment grew at 19% in 2018 with 150 new jobs created across the organisations based at the Harwell Campus over the last year alone, with a further 35 new jobs to be advertised shortly for the UK’s £99m National Satellite Test Facility.

Collectively employing over 950 people, the 89 organisations that make up the Harwell Space Cluster are a group of commercial, public and academic organisations focused on driving innovation in the UK space market and supporting the UK space sector as it aims for a 10% share of the multi-billion pound global market by 2030.

Announcing the growth figures at the annual STFC RAL Space Conference today, Dr Joanna Hart, Harwell Space Cluster Development Manager said: “We are celebrating job creation in Oxfordshire as well as the vital role that space organisations based at Harwell Campus take in shaping the UK space sector. We have a unique talent pool in the area and, as the Space Cluster continues to grow, we want to create more jobs, taking advantage not only of the science and technology capabilities of people in the region but also the entrepreneurs and people working in the knowledge economy that enable the Space Cluster to thrive.”

With the central stakeholders of the cluster being the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space facility, the European Space Agency, Satellite Applications Catapult and the UK Space Agency the cluster is attracting many companies to set up operations at Harwell Campus. Funding and collaboration opportunities are extensive and businesses from start-ups to multinationals all benefit from being co-located with the over £2billion of national science facilities on-site.

Part of that offering is the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF) that is being developed by the STFC RAL Space on behalf of the nation. In the run up to the facility becoming operational in 2021, 35 additional staff will be recruited in the next few months. While some of the roles will require experience in the space sector, there are also entry-level roles and training opportunities for new graduates and apprentices.

The NSTF will be the UK’s largest facility for testing satellites before they go into orbit. The new facility expands on the existing capabilities at RAL Space and applicants will join an established team of space test experts at the heart of the Harwell Space Cluster.

Speaking about the recruitment drive for the NSTF Matt Fletcher, Head of Environmental Testing at STFC RAL Space said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to join what will be the UK’s flagship satellite testing facility, to engage with the build, the commissioning and to deliver the transition to full operations. The team working in the National Satellite Test Facility will get involved in a huge range of satellite developments from different organisations, and provides the opportunity to say ‘I was part of the team who made this happen’ when launches and successful operation of missions occur in the future.”

The UK government has invested £99 million to establish the NSTF through the UK Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The investment supports the UK’s Industrial Strategy to help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs with investment in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future by strengthening the UK space sector’s world-leading position in satellite manufacturing.

Newly appointed Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore was in attendance at the UK’s flagship space conference and also had an opportunity to visit RAL Space’s satellite testing facilities and said:

“As my first visit as Minister for Science and Innovation, RAL Space has been a fascinating showcase of our world-leading expertise in space research and technology development.

“I’m looking forward to getting started with my new role and leading on this exciting and transformative portfolio.”

Notes to Editors

  • Based at STFC’s RAL Space facility in Oxfordshire the National Satellite Test Facility is a world-class set of facilities being built to make sure satellites are ready for space
  • When it opens in 2021 it will be the UK’s largest satellite test facility
  • 35 new jobs running the facility will be advertised in 2019 with thousands more potential jobs opening up across the UK space industry in the coming years


RAL Space is an integral part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). RAL Space carries out world-class space research and technology development with involvement in over 210 space missions.

RAL Space website
Twitter: @RAL_Space_STFC

National Satellite Test Facility

STFC RAL Space has been awarded £99 million from the UK Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to develop the National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF). The NSTF will address the need in the UK for a set of world-class, co-located facilities run by the experts, for environmental testing of space payloads and satellites up to 7000 kg. The NSTF 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.

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund:

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aims to bring together the UK’s world-leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. This is part of government’s £4.7 billion investment in R&D over 4 years.

By investing in and supporting UK businesses and researchers, the fund will ensure that research and innovation takes centre-stage in government’s Industrial Strategy.

It is delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: for research and innovation

Harwell Campus

The UK’s innovation hub. Harwell Campus is a science and technology campus with outstanding people and world-leading facilities.

Last updated: 07 December 2018


Science and Technology Facilities Council
Switchboard: +44 (0)1793 442000