A world-leading space facility is using 14 new overhead cranes from Street Crane to help lift and manoeuvre highly specialist equipment around the 80,700sq ft site.

The RAL Space facility in Oxfordshire forms a key part of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, which is operated by the Science & Technology Facility Council (STFC). Involved in more than 210 space missions, RAL Space is home to one of the most sophisticated space design, production and research facilities in Europe. It comprises thermal vacuum chambers, 15 cleanrooms and low vibration chambers, which recreate conditions in outer space and at blast-off.

Working with main contractor Willmott Dixon, Street Crane designed and installed 11 new overhead cranes with lifting capacities ranging from 0.5 tonnes to 10 tonnes. These are used throughout the building for lifting and moving scientific equipment and instrumentation and other specialist materials used by RAL.

Two larger cranes have since been installed, each featuring specially-designed dual hoists that are integrated into common hoist trolleys for independent lifting operations. The main 50-tonne hoist is used for infrequent heavy lifts and the 15-tonne hoist offers a faster lifting speed intended for smaller loads and regular use.

The other crane is similarly configured with a 30-tonne lifting capacity and with an auxiliary five-tonne hoist fitted. This 30/5-tonne crane spans the full 35-metre width of the facilities hall and will be used to transfer space instrumentation and equipment across to the hall’s clean rooms for assembly and testing.

Chris Lindley-Smith, sales director at Street Crane, said: “We’re really proud to have played a part in RAL Space’s world-class space research and technology development facility.

“The larger cranes’ dual hoists have been designed specifically to suit the operation’s requirements on quite significant structures that both span over 35m.

“The other smaller cranes will ensure that space instruments weighing up to 10 tonnes can be lifted and moved very effectively, reliably and safely. Our ZX hoists improve performance and safety while at the same time reduce the need for maintenance. These benefits are essential in such a demanding environment, which has to meet the exacting needs of customers and collaborators.”

This is the second STFC facility that uses overhead cranes designed and installed by Street Crane. Two overhead cranes also form part of the Boulby Underground Laboratory, a world-class £1.7m science facility located 1,100m underground in Yorkshire.