The European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) is ESA’s newest facility and its first in the United Kingdom. It is based at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, also known as the UK Space Gateway.
ECSAT is the most recent addition to ESA’s operational sites across Europe. First opened in 2009, ECSAT is being developed by ESA following agreements reached between the UK and ESA in November 2012. It is currently supporting activities related to telecommunications, integrated applications, climate change, technology and science.
The expansion of ESA matches the increased importance given to space by the UK. The UK space industry is growing at a long-term average of 7.3% as recorded in 2012/2013, is worth £11.3 billion to the UK economy and employs over 30 000 people in highly skilled jobs. Around 70% of the UK space industry’s production is exported.
Around 100 ESA employees will be based in ECSAT by the end of 2015. A dedicated building is currently being erected on the campus to host the ESA teams by the end of the year. Its design uses advanced concepts on sustainability and the use of natural energy sources. It will be certified according to the UK ‘Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method’ (BREEAM).
ECSAT’s current home is the Atlas building, which has been refurbished to accommodate a team of about 60 people. This building also hosts Business Incubation initiatives, operated by the UK Science and Technologies Facility Council, one of which is in cooperation with ESA. A Concurrent Design Facility and a robotics test laboratory are both operated by RAL Space, a leading UK player in the space domain and traditional partner in ESA’s science and Earth observation programmes.
ECSAT is built around and will be drawing maximum benefit from cooperation with organisations located on or linked to the Harwell campus.
As all ESA centres, it will be working with communities in all Member States of ESA. In addition, it will deliver on the objective to move ESA closer to the UK, and the UK closer to ESA, by keeping links with the UK Space Agency as well as with space and non-space communities throughout the UK and on the Harwell campus. ECSAT already has excellent relations with organisations on the campus, such as the RAL Space Group and the Satellite Applications Catapult.
The ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Harwell complements ESA’s presence on the campus. The BIC is designed to bridge the gap between a technology transfer idea and getting the project off the ground, assisting its development into a viable business.