A state-of-the-art conference centre that will support the thriving UK space industry has opened at Harwell campus in Oxfordshire.
Part of ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), the facility will serve as a rallying point for the UK space community, reinforcing existing ties and fostering new partnerships within Europe and beyond.
It was opened as part of an event that showcased ESA’s growing footprint in the UK and the strong cooperation between the UK and the agency.
Harwell campus is a key enabler of the booming UK space industry and the conference centre adds to ESA’s existing contributions to this rapidly expanding community of commercial, public and academic enterprises.
The facility – named after former director of ESA’s telecommunications activities and head of ECSAT Magali Vaissiere – will boost innovation on campus by promoting collaboration between its health, quantum, energy and space clusters.
Between 2013 and 2021, Vaissiere presided over ESA’s growing presence at Harwell, helping the agency to establish itself as a key driver of the cooperative campus ethos.
First opened in 2009, ECSAT has a focus on telecommunications, and now supports programmes of commercialisation, climate research, exploration, and space technology – all of which were on show during the opening ceremony.
Also highlighted were several of ECSAT’s cutting-edge facilities on campus, as well as many firms forming part of Harwell’s space cluster that have benefited from ESA’s support.
Located beside the main ECSAT building, ESA’s Magali Vaissiere conference centre comprises of a hall for 300 people and two smaller meeting rooms, as well as breakout areas, rooms for interpreters and catering facilities.
Josef Aschbacher, Director General of ESA, said: “The brand new facilities add to ESA’s growing footprint in Oxfordshire, and exemplify our excellent cooperation with the UK, as we work together to advance Europe’s ambitions in space. Magali has built up ECSAT to a modern centre that combines space technology and business. This conference centre deserved to be named after her.”
Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “The new state-of-the art conference centre at ECSAT is a very welcome addition to the world-class science campus at Harwell, offering an attractive base for collaboration and networking between people working in the space sector and beyond.
“UK Space Agency funding for the facility demonstrates our ongoing commitment to working closely with ESA to catalyse investment, deliver new missions and capabilities, and champion space across the UK – showing once again that space is a team sport.”
Nick Appleyard, ESA’s Acting Head of ECSAT, said: “ESA has been one of the anchors of the Harwell space cluster from the start, and we are proud and excited that more than 100 space organisations have now grown and collected around us.
“This conference centre aims to bring this UK and international community together, to share ideas and to spur one another towards further success. The building carries the name of Magali Vaissière, recognising her instrumental role in bringing us to this point.”
Stuart Grant, Chief Executive of Harwell Campus, said: “ESA’s new state-of-the-art conference centre and event space is an exciting and welcome addition to the campus.
“As a leading science and innovation campus known for world-leading breakthroughs, the centre further bolsters the campus’ ability to bring scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors together from across the globe, to Oxfordshire, forging new partnerships and propelling advancements across space, quantum, life sciences and energy sectors.”