29 June 2015 marked the 30th anniversary for Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). Since the founding of the company in June 1985, SSTL has grown to become one of the most cutting-edge companies of the small satellite industry.
SSTL has developed from a small team in a home-made clean room at the University of Surrey, to 500 ambitious employees showcasing British innovation in space engineering.
The small team’s success of UoSAT-1 as the first microsatellite with an in-orbit re-programmable computer was the first of many achievements as it turned research into commercial enterprise.
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) is to team with UrtheCast, a Canadian Earth Observation company traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), as the implementation partner for the forthcoming Generation-3 constellation. This announcement follows several months of close co-operation between the SSTL and UrtheCast teams to design a new high performance low earth orbiting platform that will fulfill the requirements of UrtheCast. This agreement exploits SSTL’s expertise in providing innovative low cost small satellite solutions.
SSTL will design and build the satellite platforms as well as the high resolution optical imagers. Patrick Wood, SSTL Group Managing Director, commented: “The dual optical/radar constellation created by UrtheCast will be a game changer for the Earth Observation market. SSTL is ideally placed to design and build the UrtheCast satellites, having made a substantial investment in new automated production facilities geared to constellation manufacture. As strategic partners in this venture, we see this initiative as a perfect marriage that exploits SSTL’s satellite manufacturing capacity and UrtheCast’s downstream data services.”
Building on SSTL’s credible knowledge and experience in designing constellations, which include RapidEye, the Disaster Monitoring Constellation and more recently DMC3 and Formosat 7, the ‘design for manufacture’ approach to Generation 3 will provide a common platform to accommodate both optical and radar payloads. The mission will be designed for multiple-launch, utilising SSTL’s expertise in working with low cost launch providers.
Wade Larson, President of UrtheCast said: “We are very impressed with SSTL’s demonstrated ability to design and build complete space solutions tailored to customer needs. Of significance is the experience gained by SSTL through the design and build of NovaSAR which has established SSTL as the world leader in affordable SAR solutions and makes them uniquely qualified to manufacture UrtheCast’s cutting edge dual band SAR design. SAR will be a key component of our constellation.”
NovaSAR is an innovative platform being built by SSTL under a UK Government grant and provides a new benchmark in affordability and performance for responsive spaceborne radar.
The Company’s Guildford UK facilities have the capacity for batch-build and a unique automated test capability for greater manufacture efficiency. Earlier this month six spacecraft were shipped for international customers and a further 11 satellites are under manufacture.
This agreement follows an earlier contract placed on SSTL by UrtheCast for the provision of an optical imager to be installed on the International Space Station.
SSTL and a consortium of UK universities are developing Twinkle, a low-cost spacecraft to characterise the absorption spectra of exoplanets, and discover their histories, the chemical composition of their atmospheres, and their weather:-
An innovative small geostationary satellite platform from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd has been selected for the first “Eutelsat Quantum” class telecommunications spacecraft, due to launch in 2018.
The “Eutelsat Quantum” will be SSTL’s first geostationary satellite platform and the design is based on the SSTL GMP-T satellite product, a small and scaleable geostationary craft with a design life of 15 years, payload power of up to 7 KW, and payload mass of up to 450kg. The spacecraft is designed to be accommodated on a range of launch vehicles, including Ariane 5, Falcon 9, and Zenit.
Surrey Space Centre is leading a team with DLR, Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Astrium SAS), SSTL , RolaTube, Cambridge University, TNO, CCGSS and others — to develop a low cost deorbiting demonstration mission. An improved, inflatable based sail called “InflateSail” is being developed at the University of Surrey with Astrium as the industrial partner as a generic, scalable deorbiting solution for any size/mass of satellite/launch vehicle upper stage and is proposed to be flight-tested as a CubeSat in-orbit demonstrator in the QB50 program. While orbiting in LEO the sail will use drag to decelerate the spacecraft, thus decreasing its altitude and its orbital velocity.
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and Kypros Satellites (Kyprosat) have signed an agreement to collaborate on a turnkey, low-cost geostationary telecommunications satellite system. The solution is based on SSTL’s small GMP-T geostationary satellite platform which delivers up to 5.5kW power, offered together with orbital slot assets and asset management services provided by Kyprosat.
The framework agreement between SSTL and Kyprosat brings a new approach of delivering solutions to the satellite market. Traditionally satellite operators are also the orbital slot ‘owners’ where they also undertake the arduous and complex process of engineering a solution that meets their requirements, while also dealing with the procurement process, the legal, legislative and financing aspects of a project. The Kyprosat-SSTL collaborative solution encompasses the satellite and mission design, manufacture and test, launch, in-orbit and ground segment service management, licensing and regulatory management, financing, and insurance services, offering a cost-effective and less complex approach for in-orbit satellite ownership, and opening up the telecommunications market to new players.
SSTL’s GMP-T platform is a flexible small satellite design which delivers up to 5.5kW of power and up to 8GHz of Ka-band or 1GHz of Ku-band. The platform is designed to stack in pairs for launch, thus reducing launch costs.
The signing of the agreement took place in Limassol, Cyprus on 5th September 2014, and was attended by the Cyprus Minister of Communications and Works, Mr. Marios Demetriades together with representatives from SSTL, Kyprosat, and Mr Joerg Kreisel, the CEO of JKIC.
After the signing ceremony Dr John Paffett, Director of Telecommunications and Navigation for SSTL, commented “SSTL’s small Geo platform is perfectly placed to address the Kyprosat needs and to offer smaller domestic telecoms operators in emerging markets an affordable entry opportunity to an indigenous capability. At the same time it offers established global commercial satellite operators opportunities for cost-effective and rapid upgrade or replacement of capability.”
Mr Angelos Pieri, CEO of Kyprosat said “There are many nations and regions of the world with needs which can easily be serviced with a smaller satellite. Hosted payloads and leasing bandwidth is of course an option currently offered, but the benefit of our offer is to provide a solution tailor-made to the customer needs and more importantly you have your own satellite which can be operated autonomously, relocated or redeployed during its lifetime.“
Kyprosat is already pursuing opportunities with potential customers, and is launching a roadshow of the new product over the next few months.
Andy Bradford from SSTL summarised the firm’s requirements for launch services. SSTL can provide payloads from 15kg up to 4 tonnes, and by the standards of the industry is highly efficient: it boasts more payloads launched per capita than any other firm in the world. They have 27 payloads currently in development.
Smallsat payload launch typically put out to tender — the market tends to be “seasonal”, which makes it difficult to build a stable business case for small spacecraft. Currently several large “constellation” projects in the US including Skybox, OmniEarth & Planetlabs. Some new launcher development is pinned on these projects.
SSTL keen to see a dedicated smallsat launcher to support its business strategy and build exports. Sees 15-20kg payload as possible realistic entry point for small launcher. In discussion already with several vehicle developers — NDAs apply. Reusability is key to low cost launch services? Could be, won’t commit at this stage.
A recording of the recent lecture given by Prof Sir Martin Sweeting of SSTL at the Royal Aeronatical Society on the subject Small Satellites: Fad or Fantastic?.
"Modern small satellites, taking advantage of the dramatic advances in commercial ‘off-the-shelf’ (COTS) technologies developed for the industrial and consumer markets, have developed capabilities that are rivalling their conventional large satellite counterparts but at considerably lower cost and shorter timescales to launch. This is changing the approach to space and enabling new business models. What is the reality of small satellite missions and how far can they go?"
On Tuesday the 10th of December Mars One will announce at a press conference in Washington DC that we contracted Lockheed Martin and SSTL for our first unmanned mission to Mars. The press conference will be followed by a Tweetup. We're very excited about contracting Lockheed Martin and SSTL. Lockheed Martin has a distinct legacy of participating in nearly every NASA mission to Mars. SSTL has an impressive track record in small, affordable satellite missions.
Livestream Press conference
The press conference will take place from 10:30am – 12:00pm (EST) in the National Press Club in Washington DC and will be live streamed, see mars-one.com/countdown.
The press conference will be followed by a Tweetup and Q&A. It will start at 1:30 pm and will last until 2:30 pm (EST). We invite you to join the Tweetup live at the National Press Club in Washington DC, or online using the hashtag #AskMarsOne. You will be able to submit questions on that hashtag and the frequently asked ones will be answered by the Mars One, Lockheed Martin and SSTL panel.
If you're interested in joining the Tweetup live, please email us on email@example.com and let us know your Twitter handle.