The Large Satellite Test Chamber (LSTC)
08 Jun 2023



​The National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF) is a new facility being built at Harwell in Oxfordshire, UK.



3D model of LTSC with the location of the DC power supply racks 
It will be the UK's first comprehensive set of space test facilities at this scale and will enable UK industry to build bigger, more technologically advanced satellites, and test them in the UK. The £105M NSTF is being funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).

The Large Satellite Test Chamber (LSTC) is one of the key facilities at the NSTF. It is a bespoke thermal vacuum chamber used to simulate the vacuum and thermal conditions in space. The LSTC is 7 meters in diameter and 12 meters long, and it is lined with temperature-controlled panels. These panels will be powered by 140 DC power supplies.

The electrical system for controlling the DC power supplies is a complex and challenging project. It must be highly reliable, as any failures could result in the loss of valuable experimental data. The system must also be flexible so that different power supplies can be operated with open or closed-loop feedback.

The electrical system is being designed and built by the Electrical Engineering group within Technology's Daresbury Laboratory division. The team faced a number of challenges, including the limited physical space available. However, they were able to overcome these challenges by using their extensive knowledge of power supply systems. They procured reliable power supplies with a high power density and housed them in customized rack systems to optimize the available space

DC power supply rack with the integrated 
control system.
The team is using a variety of techniques and technologies to ensure that the system meets the required standards. These techniques include:

  • 3D modelling and simulation

  • Fault-tolerant design

  • High-reliability components

  • Extensive testing

The electrical system is scheduled to be completed in 2023 when the NSTF is expected to open. The system will play a vital role in the testing of satellites at the NSTF, and it will help to ensure that UK industry remains at the forefront of space technology.

The NSTF will be a valuable asset to the UK space industry. It will provide a world-class facility for the testing of satellites, and it will help to attract new businesses to the UK. The NSTF is a significant investment in the UK's future in space, and it will help to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in this field.

Written by Trevor Hartnett, a member of the Electrical Engineering team​.