The UK has invested £99m in the National Satellite Test Facility, in construction at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Harwell. This facility will provide a world class set of co-located facilities for the assembly, integration and testing of space payloads and satellites. The facility will have the capability to conduct Vibration, Acoustic, Thermal, Pyro shock, Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) and antennae testing for payloads up to 7 tonnes within clean room conditions.
This new investment adds to the existing facilities operated by RAL Space department, part of Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
The NSTF is currently in the early construction phase, anticipated to finish construction in 2020, and moving into facility commissioning in 2020/21. The operation of both the new and existing environmental test facilities are the responsibility of the Environmental Test Division, in order to support the transition to operations of the new facilities, the division needs to expand significantly.
The role of junior test operator will be to operate testing in Thermal Vacuum Testing Groups. There will be a range of test activities conducted in our existing and future facilities and the role of junior test operator will be to work under the direction and supervision of a principal test engineer or test operator for test activities. As the training develops, more autonomy will be given and less direct supervision, this may mean acting as the responsible test operator on smaller, less complex testing, with on-call, or accessible supervision.
During the test campaigns there will be the requirement for 24hr shift working, the current practice is a 12-hour shift pattern, for which additional payment would be made.
We are expecting to operate the majority of the facilities to ECSS-Q-ST-20-07C. There is a requirement that the test facilities are operated and maintained within the overall quality requirements of the Environmental Test Facilities. Through the initial period, the junior test operator will be introduced to these procedures, supervised initially, then given increasing autonomy to perform the activities.
There would be opportunities when competence is assessed as suitable for working as a test operator (band D). The speed of demonstration of competence will depend on the skills, experience of the individual adopting the post and their ability to learn and adopt the necessary experience and understanding.
The duties and responsibilities are as follows:
- Initial responsibilities in engaging and following procedures and practices
- Initial responsibilities in engaging with technical equipment, understanding the operation and maintenance required
- Initial responsibility for preparing and conducting the tests, under the supervision of a test operator
- Support the maintenance of the technical performance envelope of the equipment
- Support the maintenance of the test equipment
- Support the calibration of the test equipment
- Responsible for the safe operation of the equipment
- Following Health and Safety standards, STFC codes & policies
- Work under and engage with risk assessments for facilities as well as specific test campaigns
- Train in and follow the operational procedures relevant to the equipment.
Contacts and Communication
The Junior test Operator may report to one of the Principal Test Engineers or Test Operators (dependant on line management structure at the time). Under the test campaign they would work under the direction of the principal test engineer for the duration of the test.
Key contacts and communications will be with:
- Other Test Operators and Test engineers in training within ETD (TVAC, Dynamics, EMC and Antennae, Infrastructure)
- Quality Assurance Function
- Customers at testing activity under the direction of the Principal Test Engineer
- Safety Function within RAL Space.
Personal Skills and Attributes:
- Ability to listen to and follow technical instructions, ability to articulate when uncertain of the instruction
- Ability to follow and maintain structured documentation and support others to follow procedures
- Excellent communication skills both written and verbal
- Keeping a strong customer focus within the bounds of the contracted service
- Responsible approach to health and safety management
- Dedication, self-motivation, positive attitude, fulfilling commitments
- Able to multi-task and prioritise against a heavy work load and achieve demanding targets.
- Demonstration of technical competence in a related field
- Demonstration of the ability to quickly understand technical systems
- Ability to support required day/night shifts and weekends
- Ability to follow written procedures.
- Broad technical understanding of test techniques including the typical technologies used in operation
- Experience of working under defined quality assurance practices would be a significant advantage
- Operational experience in a related field would be a significant advantage
- Experience working with cleanrooms
- Technical understanding of the technologies used in the specific testing environment would be a significant advantage
- Experience working with a quality management system (e.g. ISO 9001 or EN9100)
- Ability to utilize power supplies, digital volt meters, data loggers, oscilloscopes, counters, and stepper motor controllers would be a significant advantage
- Knowledge and utilization experience of pressure transducers, thermocouples, data acquisition systems would be a significant advantage
- Having practical hands on ability to make connectors as well as the ability to use mechanical tools would be a significant advantage
- Knowledge and experience of operating mechanical and electrical test systems would be a significant advantage.