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N° 23–2015: Call for media: First ESA facility in UK - a catalyst for growth

2 July 2015

On Thursday 9 July, ESA, the European Space Agency, European government leaders and space sector representatives will come together to inaugurate new ESA facilities and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories at the UK Space Gateway in Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire.

ESA’s first British astronaut Tim Peake will interact with the audience from his training place in Star City, Russia.

The event will present what makes space a good investment. Success stories from entrepreneurs and the signature of an international contract to UK manufacturers will highlight the recent expansion of ESA and the Science & Technology Facilities Council in Harwell Campus – in itself a growing international hub of space, science and business.

ESA’s activities in the UK, consistently in partnership with industry and institutions, have accompanied the economic growth of the space sector, creating new business and employment.

Available for interviews will be Johann-Dietrich Woerner, ESA’s Director General as of 1 July, and Christopher Mutlow, Director of RAL.

There will be an exhibition by successful space SMEs, whose entrepreneurs will also be available for interviews before and after the inauguration programmes.

ESA will also sign its partnership with leading satellite operator Eutelsat on the Quantum project – a revolutionary flexible satellite design primed and manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in the UK using a new platform from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

For further enquiries or to book interview slots contact or +44 (0) 7900 696 526

Media pack

9 July media programme

Address: Fermi Avenue, Harwell, Didcot OX11 0QR - UK

09.00 – 11.00  Media briefing and interview opportunities at Space Applications Catapult

11.00 – 11.30     ESA ECSAT inauguration of Roy Gibson Building

11.30 – 12.00    Signature of Quantum contract (ESA, Eutelsat, Airbus)

12.00 – 13.00   STFC RAL Space Development and Test Facility inauguration

14.00 – 16.00   Space Entrepreneurs exhibition and Harwell Campus tours

ECSAT, ESA’s home in the UK

ESA ECSAT (the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications) is the youngest of ESA’s facilities and is based in the UK, on Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. It has a focus on telecom as well as being the home of ESA’s Climate Office.

ECSAT’s new building will be named after Roy Gibson, ESA’s first Director General who helped form the Agency in 1975 and who will speak about his experience of doing so at the event. The building itself is still a month away from completion, but the centre’s presence on campus has been developing steadily since 2008, following the UK government’s decision to increase their contribution to ESA.

ESA and its campus partners are gathering on the 9 July to celebrate the result of this increased involvement by the UK and to mark the impressive growth that space as a business is making in the UK and across Europe.

Harwell Campus, the UK Space Gateway

The Science and Technology Facilities Council, ESA’s neighbour on the Harwell Campus, will be opening their RAL New Space Development and Test Facility straight after the ECSAT ceremony.

Since 2009 ECSAT staff have been housed in Harwell Campus’s Atlas Building, where in the 1960s one of the world’s first, and at the time most powerful, computers was built and run. The building was also home to the first ever computer animations. The ESA team will move into their new, dedicated building in September.

Harwell Campus ( is one of the largest science campuses in the world and is home to a wide variety of businesses, ranging from large corporations to technology start-ups.

On 9 July, there is also a campus-wide open day to industry from the UK and abroad, with tours of the major science facilities and SME exhibitions.

Space SMEs available for interview:

-Oxford Space Systems, deployable space structures:

- Geospatial Insight, satellite and aerial imagery analysis for business:

- Deimos Space UK, space systems, services and applications:

- Rezatec, modelling of Earth Observation imagery and data: 

- Sterling Geo, spaceborne, airborne and terrestrial data analysis:

- Geocento, web-based applications for satellite imagery search and management:

- AGSpace, online precision farming software:

- iGeolise, travel time analysis:

- exactEarth Europe, advanced location-based information on maritime traffic

There will be a photographer and film crew capturing the event. All visuals will be made available to media shortly after it concludes.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, have signed Accession Agreements to the ESA Convention and will soon become new ESA Member States.

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more about ESA at

For further information:

ESA Media Relations Office


Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99