Moving a space test chamber from Italy to UK

Specialist Logistics Services does exactly as its name suggests – it specialises in the movement of out-of-gauge and abnormal project cargo.

During the first Covid lockdown in April 2020, it undertook a particularly challenging venture to move a satellite space test chamber from its manufacturing facility in Italy to Harwell in Oxfordshire. It was by far the biggest challenge the company had undertaken.

The vast spherical chamber was moved in 53 parts, six of which were the main chamber walls comprising 8m-wide sections. Specialist Logistics Services started the journey by chartering a vessel from Italy to the UK. It then organised with Portsmouth docks to use specialist cranes to unload the vessel and move every part on appropriate vehicles that would manage the size and weight of the pieces. Then very early on a Sunday morning as to not disrupt regular traffic, the convoy departed for its destination. Taking up a minimum of two lanes of traffic at any one time, the convoy was over half a mile long in total.

Upon arrival in Harwell, a highly skilled team was brought in to move the pieces into place and weld it together so the rest of the facility could be constructed around the chamber.

The operation took two years of planning and involved literally hundreds of personnel.

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