9th April 2024

Sir Robert McAlpine to deliver North East Space Skills Centre

We have been appointed by Northumbria University under a pre-construction services agreement (PCSA) to deliver the North East Space Skills and Technology Centre (NESST).

The £26m contract value scheme comprises the partial demolition, refurbishment and extension of the existing Wynne Jones building to form the NESST Centre for Northumbria University. 

The works will include new ground floor and six upper levels with a footprint area of circa 900m2. The building will provide satellite manufacturing clean rooms, advanced prototyping laboratories, a Mission Operations Centre teaching laboratories and collaborative spaces for work with companies in the space manufacturing supply chain.

This ground-breaking project, backed by substantial investment from the UK Space Agency and Lockheed Martin Space, represents a significant milestone in advancing the UK's space industry. 

NESST is expected to directly support the creation of over 350 jobs. The project will inject over £260 million into the North East economy over the next 30 years, playing a critical role in the government’s levelling-up agenda and becoming a catalyst for the wider development of the UK space sector in the North East region.

This award builds on our long-standing successful relationship with Northumbria University and was awarded via the North East Procurement Organisation framework for council and public body projects.

Located in the heart of Northumbria University’s Newcastle city campus, the centre will be a new national space asset that brings together industry and academia to collaborate on internationally significant space research and technological developments.

NESST will put the UK at the forefront of research and innovation in areas including optical satellite communications, space weather and space-based energy, and will lead the way in providing specialist education and training to ensure the UK space sector has the highly skilled workers it needs in the future.

Sir Robert McAlpine's appointment to lead the delivery of the North East Space Skills and Technology Centre signifies not only our commitment to engineering excellence but also a dedication to pioneering advancements in the UK's space industry. We look forward to commencing onsite over the coming months.

Mark Gardham Sector Director, Sir Robert McAlpine

Professor John Woodward, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) at Northumbria University, said:

“We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sir Robert McAlpine to carry out the next phase of the development of NESST. Their expertise and track-record for delivering some of the UK’s most iconic buildings will prove invaluable in realising our vision to create a state-of-the-art facility that will house world-leading space experts and unite industry with academia, to transform the UK space economy.

“NESST has been carefully designed to redevelop and reutilise as much of the structure of the former Wynne Jones Centre as reasonably practicable, retaining thousands of tonnes of embedded carbon in the retained concrete frame, while delivering a new energy efficient building, fit to power the next generation of space innovation.”

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