New ‘out of this world’ conference centre opens at Harwell

A state-of-the-art conference centre that will support the thriving UK space industry has opened at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire – the UK’s space gateway.

ESA’s new facility sits alongside their European satellite and space telecommunications centre (ECSAT) at Harwell and provides cutting-edge, adaptable meeting facilities, a conference hall for 300 people, meeting rooms as well as breakout areas, exhibition space and dedicated rooms for interpreters.

The centre, named after ESA’s former director of telecommunications activities and head of ECSAT, Magali Vaissiere, further aids collaboration between the campus’ life sciences, quantum, energy and space clusters, and will serve as a rallying point for the UK space community, reinforcing existing ties and fostering new partnerships within Europe and beyond.

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.”

Stuart Grant Chief Executive of Harwell Campus added: “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 campus known for world-leading breakthroughs, the centre further bolsters the campus’ ability to bring together scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors from across the globe, forging new partnerships and propelling advancements across Space, Quantum, Life Sciences and Energy sectors.”

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. “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 Vaissiere, recognising her instrumental role in bringing us to this point.”

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 over 100 commercial, public and academic space enterprises.

Over the next two years Harwell will build an additional 500,000 sq. ft of new laboratory and R&D buildings across the campus. This will include Tech Foundry, 220,000 sq. ft of Advanced Manufacturing space and the Linear Accelerator Building, L.A.B., a landmark laboratory building for starting and scaling science organisations, alongside a number of further improvements across the campus.