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Partnership with the Mace Group

Hoist UK was approached by the Mace Group, the main contractor for the NSTF project, to provide overhead cranes for the facility. Hoist UK was chosen due to their experience and expertise in providing bespoke lifting solutions for a wide range of industries, such as clean room and other specialised industry sectors.

The Mace Group is a leading global construction and consultancy company that provides services across a range of industries, including infrastructure, property, and energy. As the main contractor for the National Satellite Testing Facility project, the Mace Group was responsible for managing the construction and installation of the facility, including the installation and commissioning of the overhead cranes supplied by Hoist UK.

The NSTF Facility and the End User

The National Satellite Testing Facility (NSTF) is owned and operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). STFC is responsible for carrying out research and development in a range of fields, including particle physics, space science, and astronomy.

The NSTF is a state-of-the-art facility that provides a range of services to the UK space industry, including environmental testing of spacecraft and payloads, vibration and shock testing, thermal vacuum testing, and electromagnetic compatibility testing. The facility was developed to meet the growing demand for satellite testing facilities in the UK and to support the country's ambition to become a global leader in the space industry.

As the owner and operator of the NSTF, STFC is responsible for ensuring that the facility meets the needs of the UK space industry and for providing the necessary resources and expertise to support the facility's operations.

The NSTF is an essential part of the UK's space infrastructure, providing critical services to the country's growing space industry. The facility's state-of-the-art equipment and experienced staff make it a valuable resource for satellite manufacturers and operators, enabling them to test and validate their spacecraft before launch.

The Solution

Hoist UK supplied six cranes for different areas of the facility which were the airlock, cleanroom 1, TVAC (Thermal Vacuum and Space Simulation Chamber), main area, EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility) chamber, and the vibration test hall. Each crane was fitted with a host of enhanced features suitable for clean room operations.

The cranes were also fitted with safety features such as limit switches, overload protection, a bespoke radio control system and emergency stop system. The overhead cranes were also fitted an electronic system called ExpertCare that monitors the crane/hoist for its FEM duty classification to ensure it remains within its serviceable life.

The Expertcare system will record the following data for collection during servicing/inspection visits by Hoist UK service personnel, as well as being available to the end user if required:

  • Real time load display
  • Remaining service life (SWP) of the hoist, brake and contactors
  • Internal temperatures
  • Operational hours
  • Faults and alarms

Crane Locations


The airlock crane is used to transfer equipment and materials between the cleanroom and external environments.

It is a 26-tonne capacity double girder overhead crane with a 16.4 metre span a lifting height of 12.6 metres and is equipped with a hoist with enhanced features allowing slow and precise movements of the hook and load.

Cleanroom 1

Cleanroom 1 is where the satellite is assembled, and the double girder crane here needed to have a high degree of accuracy and precision and very slow speed lifting.

The crane in this hall has a 10-tonne lifting capacity with a 10.4 metre span and a lifting height of 13 metres and again fitted again with enhanced features suitable for the working environment.

TVAC / Cleanroom 2

The TVAC crane is used to load equipment for thermal vacuum testing in the facilities space simulation chamber.

The 10-tonne capacity double girder crane featured a span of 14.6 metres and lifting height of 13 metres. The crane operates between the TVAC and Cleanroom 2 area of the hall and is fitted with a hoist and drives capable of a very slow speed movements which are needed to handle loads of this type.

Main Area

The main area also has a double girder overhead crane with a 10-tonne capacity with a 9.5m span and lifting height of 13m. The overhead crane is used for general lifting operations in the facility, moving the loads in the main corridor of the building between the five principal areas of facility. It is equipped with a hoist with very slow and precise movement control, like the other areas of the facility.

EMC Chamber

The EMC testing chamber crane is fitted with special absorber panels supplied by an specialist contractor and when the crane is not in use it is housed in void in the wall of the chamber.

The single girder overhead crane in this special area has a 5-tonne capacity, a span of 17.8 metres and lifting height of 12 metres and is used for lifting equipment in the chamber ready for EMC testing.

Vibration Test Hall

Finally, the vibration test hall crane has a 10-tonne capacity crane in a double girder configuration, with a span of 15.6 metres and a lifting height of 13 metres which is used for lifting equipment ready for vibration testing which is used on the satellite to simulate the loads it subject too during launch and in orbit.


Paul Jordan, Managing Director

"Hoist UK worked closely with the Mace Group to ensure that the overhead cranes and hoists were installed safely and to the required specifications. The installation process involved installing the cranes into the facility as part of the main construction process under strict site safety control protocols.

Hoist UK's expertise in providing bespoke lifting solutions was essential in providing overhead cranes that were suitable for the National Satellite Testing Facility. The enhanced features fitted to these cranes with clean room suitable components were critical in ensuring that the cranes were fit for purpose. The involvement of the Mace Group as the main contractor ensured that the installation was carried out safely, efficiently and to the required specifications for Science and Technology Facilities Council’ state of the art new facility."

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