Aylesbury Vale business given £740,000 boost for specialist space projects

The money will be spent upgrading the lab and other test areas used for space consultation projects and training
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An Aylesbury Vale business has received a £740,000 grant to upgrade facilities used for a space fuel programme.

European Astrotech, which operates at Westcott Venture Park near Aylesbury, received the influx of new money from the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

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The Bucks-based business provides engineering, technical and advisory support to space propulsion organisations.

European AstrotechEuropean Astrotech
European Astrotech

After receiving a six-figure boost European Astrotech is taking on a new operation at Westcott, while using some money to refurbish existing facilities.

It is installing 12 connected modular buildings to house offices, a meeting room and training area with work expected to be completed by mid-March.

This has freed up space in the existing facility where the money is being used for upgrades including on the ISO 8 clean room facility, laboratory and materials test areas.

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Two test sites have also been refurbished with up-to-date data systems.

From Westcott Venture ParkFrom Westcott Venture Park
From Westcott Venture Park

Mainly, the new base at Plot 81 will be used for training and consultancy with for the spaceports set to launch UK missions.

European Astrotech managing director Chris Smith said: “This is a really exciting time for the business with the growth coming on the back of the rapid development of the UK space industry.

“We’re going to be running a four-day course with the Civil Aviation Authority about hazardous propellants and launch operations as they have the task of regulating the new UK spaceports.

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“We are also teaching post graduates from UK Universities learning about the practical side of rocket testing and Ground Support Equipment build and we also have Surrey Satellite Technology coming to do a training refresher course on High Test Peroxide handling.

“We want to be able to offer subsidised courses for students and postgraduates with the onus on getting them up to speed before they go into industry.”

Among the other nations European Astrotech has worked with in the past is America, French Guiana, India, China and Russia.

Chris said: “We’ve worked with all the big players – I’ve been involved in more than 70 fuelling operations over the last 35 years. We are one of the only companies providing training on the big picture, from satellite delivery through to launch and all the hazardous operations in between.”

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The business will also be fuelling the remaining Galileo satellites up to and including 2025 while contracts are expected for the Euclid and Biomass satellites soon.

In June it is looking to fuel the SARah satellites at SpaceX, Vandenburg, California and in November it will be performing simulant loading and testing of the NAOS satellite in either ESTEC (Holland) or Intespace, Toulouse. Finally, it is expecting to fuel THEOS-2 in Kourou sometime in December this year.

Chris said: “We are winning far more contracts than in previous years which reflects our expertise in the field of space propulsion as well as the general growth in the space sector.”

Rod Mordey, Westcott asset manager said: “We are delighted to be able to accommodate European Astrotech’s ongoing growth by providing additional space at the Park. Our job is to support the innovative companies based at Westcott throughout their lifecycle, providing them with a secure and sustainable environment to grow and develop their business operations.

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“Westcott is a unique business park with a thriving ecosystem of space companies building upon the site’s history in rocket motor propulsion. It is a secure site with an established regulatory and safety regime suitable for testing a wide variety of systems.”

Richard Harrington, CEO of Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are delighted to support European Astrotech’s establishment of its Centre of Excellence for Rocket Engine and Flow Tests Facility at Westcott with a £740,000 Getting Building Fund award.

“This investment opens up the next stage in the evolution of the Westcott site to attract new business and investment to this globally leading centre of excellence in space propulsion in the heart of Buckinghamshire.”