NSTF Facility Planner/Scheduler


Direct Entry Job Permanent Didcot, UK

Uploaded 8 Jan 2021

Job Description


The UK is has invested £99m in the National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), in construction at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Harwell, Oxfordshire. This facility, along with the existing facilities, will provide a world class set of co-located facilities for the final integration and testing of space payloads and satellites used for Earth Observation, Astronomy or even to explore other astronomical bodies such as the Moon, or Mars. The facilities will have the capability to conduct Vibration, Acoustic, Thermal, Pyroshock, Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) and Antenna testing for spacecraft and associated payloads up to 7 tonnes within clean room conditions to ensure that they can survive both the journey into space and the harsh environment within it.

The NSTF is currently in construction, will become operational in summer 2021 and be fully open to customers a year later. The operation of both the new and existing environmental test facilities are the responsibility of the Environmental Test Division (ETD) within RAL Space, in order to support the future operations of the expanded facilities, the division needs to expand significantly.

About the Role

The Facility Scheduler will be instrumental in the successful operation of the existing and new test facilities as they are developed. The operation will be underpinned by the planning function and planning will provide vital visibility of the short, medium and long term plans to ensure the facilities are optimised. Schedules will be constructed around business as usual activities which will need to be updated and re-scheduled on daily basis as a result of internal and external influences. 

The Facility Scheduler will be responsible for creating and maintaining the live facility master plan, through the extraction of information from multiple locations and people, including: Head of RAL Space Operations, ETD Operational Group Leaders and Test Programme Managers. In addition to building the master plans, you will also be responsible for identifying conflicts, acting as a catalyst in the resolution of clashes between competing requirements in the first instance and then presenting issues and options to senior staff as appropriate.

This role is a new post and as such, there is significant scope to define tools, methods and processes used.

The duties and responsibilities are as follows:

  • Responsible for creation and maintenance of a master facility plan
  • Responsible for planning tool maintenance
  • Responsible for presenting the facility usage in multiple formats
  • Tracking utilisation rates for the various facilities and predicting over and underutilisation
  • Assist in the definition of planning process and implementation
  • Responsible for planning software selection and implementation
  • Responsible for gathering all schedule information via communication with key projects and customers.

The planning function will need to keep regular contact with:

  • Business development (for future opportunity loadings)
  • Test program managers (through bid stage and under contract)
  • Principle Test engineers (for maintenance and test activities)
  • Operational Group Leaders (for maintenance and test activities)
  • Quality function within RAL Space
  • Safety function in RAL Space
  • Customer Office (presentation of facility information)
  • Head of RAL Space Operations (for conflict management)
  • Senior Management for presentation of information / scenarios.

Person Specification

Personal Skills and Attributes

  • Ability to retain the ‘big picture’ and anticipate potential problems
  • Ability to extract key planning information from multiple sources
  • Ability to understand dependencies between activities
  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to present complex plans in the most simplistic form suitable.
  • Significant skills and experience in negotiation and the ability to line manage staff (both permanent and contract staff).

Shortlisting and Interview Criteria


  • You may either be educated to degree level (or equivalent) in a related field, or you may have a vocational qualification alongside relevant experience 
  • Previous expiring of planning and resource scheduling in a complex technical environment
  • Demonstration of the ability and tenacity to extract information from multiple sources 
  • Demonstration of selection of appropriate visualisation tools 
  • Demonstration of appropriate planning software selection and implementation 
  • Ability to retain the ‘big picture’ and anticipate potential problems 
  • Ability to extract key planning information from multiple sources 
  • Ability to understand dependencies between activities 
  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent interpersonal skills 
  • Excellent communication skills both written and verbal 
  • Ability to present complex plans in the most simplistic form suitable 
  • Significant skills and experience in negotiation and working with multidisciplinary teams of internal and external contacts.


  • Experience of working in space testing would be of significant advantage.