Missions and Projects

Timeline listing RAL Space mission involvement since 1965.

​​​​​​​​​​RAL Space Mission Timeline​


In 1962, researchers at what is now RAL supported a space mission to launch Canada’s first satellite, Alouette 1, marking the beginning of RAL Space’s involvement with the space industry.

For more than 50 years, RAL Space has supported over 210 space missions positioning RAL as a centre for the UK space sector.

RAL Space has worked on a variety of missions including the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Ptolemy instrument for ESA's Rosetta mission. Our involvement in these missions and more can be explored in the categories below. ​

For more information please email: RAL Space Enquiries​​

Timeline listing RAL Space mission involvement since 1965.




  • ALMA antenna pointing skyward in the Atacama desert.
  • Ariel Space Telescope with Earth, Moon and Sun.
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  • Black & white photo of two men looking at a model of Ariel 3.
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  • AstroGrid logo has the words Astro and Grid in blue on top of a grid with white background and black gridlines.
  • 4-metre aperture telescope with a spherical dome.
  • DKIST observatory dome in Hawaii.
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  • Artist's impression of the Gaia spacecraft. It looks like a gold cylinder with a silver corrugated dish shape below.
  • Dome of the Northern Gemini telescope high above the clouds. A beam of light is going up into a deep blue starry sky.
  • Artist's impression of the Ginga spacecraft. It ilooks like a rectanguar gold box with a cross shaped solar array below.
  • Image shows telescope, vessel containing liquid helium cryostat (narrow, middle part), and service module at the bottom.
  • Astronauts Steven L. Smith, and John M. Grunsfeld repairing the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • The IRAS space telescope above the Earth.
  • ISIS 1 spacecraft.
  • ​​Model of ISIS
  • Infrared Space Observatory
  • Artist's impression of the International Ultraviolet Explorer.
  • The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) located on the slopes of Maunakea, Hawaii.
  • Artist's impression of the JWST in space.
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  • An image of the LBT with two 8.4 m primary mirrors inside the observatory enclosure.
  • Faulkes Telescope North located at Haleakala Observatory, on Maui, Hawaii.
  • LISA Pathfinder operates from a vantage point in space about 1.5 million km from Earth towards the Sun,
  • Artist's impression of MINISAT 01.
  • ​​OAO-3 Astronomical Observatory 3
  • Pan-STARRS  telescope dome"
  • Artist's impression of Planck
  • Artist's impression of ROSAT
  • The dome of the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope
  • Artist's impression of ​Spectrum-X​
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  • View inside ESO's Paranal Observatory
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  • Broadwan logo (a white number 6 on a blue and white striped background)
  • Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems CCSDS written over a blue and orange dots.
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  • Visualisation of the GIOVE-B satellite in orbit with open solar pannels.
  • GSAT-1 satellite
  • KA-SAT in the test facility
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  • ​​​​Artist's impression of the SkyNet-5​ satellite
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Earth Sciences


  • Aerial view of Chilbolton Observatory with buildings and a large white antenna.
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  • ​​BILSAT-1 in an acoustic test chamber
  • Rows of IPS antennas
  • Artist's impression of a satellite in Earth's orbit with opened solar panels and antenna.
  • Image of the globe, large blocky pixels denote climate variation.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​EarthCARE Satellite orbiting the Earth
  • A spacecraft in Earth's orbit.
  • A spacecraft observing polar regions.
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  • ERS-1 orbiting the Earth
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  • A spacecraft with the reflection of the Earth on the solar panel.
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  • MARSCHALS mounted in Bay 1 of the Geophysica.
  • A satellite in Earth's orbit.
  • Artists impression of MicroCarb scanning the atmosphere.
  • MIDAS logo
  • MSG-1 during testing in a clean room
  • MSG-2 during testing
  • MSG-3 during testing
  • ​​​Artist's impression of MSG-4 in the Earth's orbit.
  • MST Radar at Aberystwyth, UK
  • NEODC logo with spacecraft orbiting the Earth
  • ​Nigeria Sat-1 being tested in the Thermal Vacuum Chamber
  • ​NigeriaSat-2 in the test chamber
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  • NOAA-N in testing
  • ​​​​Artist impression of Proba-V'
  • ​​RapidEye in the Space Test Chamber
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  • Artist's impression of Sentinel-2 orbiting Earth
  • Artist's impression of Sentinel-3
  • Artist's impression of the three satellites that make up Swarm orbiting Earth.
  • ​​​TechDemoSat - 1 in the thermal vacuum chamber
  • ​​The Terahertz and Sub-mm Limb Sounder pictured with a typical ballpoint pen beside it, showing they are about the same length.
  • Satellite image showing fields and a large river
  • Artist's impression of the ​UARS​ satellite
  • ​​UK-DMC in our AIV​
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Near-Earth Environment


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  • A cubic satellite in space. The Earth and airglow in the background.
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  • A satellite in Earth's orbit.
  • Cutlass logo - the Earth above crossed cutlasses on a circular blue background
  • Two satellites in the Earth's orbit.
  • Two large antennae.
  • The IMAGE spacecraft undergoing launch preparations in early 2000.
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  • the isononde at sunset
  • Artist's impression of the Polar satellite

Solar Physics


  • Artist's impression of ACE
  • Spacecraft with two paraboli reflectors
  • Spacecraft with opened solar panels.
  • EIT and UVCI instruments layout inside the HERSCHEL sounding-rocket payload.
  • The Hinode satellite with three telescopes above the Earth.
  • ESA Proba-3 image
  • Artists impression of the Solar Maximum Mission satellite
  • The Solar & Heliospheric Observatory satellite
  • Artists impression of the Solar Orbiter spacecraft in front of the sun
  • Artist rendition of TRACE spacecraft over the earth

Solar System


  • Illustration of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its final entry into Saturn’s atmosphere.
  • Image of the Earth's Moon, with its dark basaltic mare.
  • A satellite in outer space.
  • Illustration showing InSight spacecraft with its instruments deployed on the Martian surface.
  • A spacecraft over the surface of Mars.
  • NOZOMI Japanese Mars Explorer
  • Artists impression of the SMART-1 satellite
  • Spacelab 2 in orbit over Earth