SSTL to build up to twelve satellites for FORMOSAT-7’s global weather forecasting programme
SSTL has been awarded the contract by the National Space Organization (NSPO) in Taiwan for the design and manufacture of up to twelve satellite platforms for the FORMOSAT-7/COSMIC-2 constellation. The contract was awarded in an open international competition, with SSTL providing the most cost-effective solution.
The FORMOSAT-7/COSMIC-2 mission is a joint civil programme between NSPO and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, and is to provide continuity for the highly successful FORMOSAT-3 mission. The new constellation is intended to comprise twelve spacecraft and is to collect atmospheric data at low and mid latitudes and improve regional and global weather forecasting for over 5000 registered users across the globe. It will also provide scientific data in support of climate studies and ionospheric science. Launch of the first six spacecraft in the constellation is being targeted in 2016.
Under the contract, SSTL will design and manufacture satellites for the FORMOSAT-7 programme at its facilities in Guildford, UK, with the payloads being produced by NSPO’s partners in the USA. NPSO will be responsible for the integration of the majority of the spacecraft at its facilities in Taiwan. The spacecraft design phase is already underway and SSTL is tailoring a new 200kg platform to the mission requirements.
The FORMOSAT-7 spacecraft is the fifth constellation that SSTL has been involved with, following on from the Disaster Monitoring Constellation, RapidEye, DMC3, and the Galileo FOC.
SSTL and the Royal Academy of Engineering have jointly sponsored a new academic post at The Surrey Space Centre, part of the University of Surrey. World-class space engineer Professor Guglielmo Aglietti will take up the prestigious Chair of Space Engineering post, created to support and increase the partnership between space research and industry.
The Surrey Space Centre houses the largest academic space research group in the UK and works closely with SSTL, bringing the results of academic research and conceptual projects to real commercial applications. SSTL and SSC have worked together in the past on pioneering missions such as UoSAT-12 and SNAP, and are currently working collaboratively on the STRaND nanosatellites programme.
Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL and Director of the Surrey Space Centre said: “At Surrey we benefit from and the synergy of academic research and commercial exploitation that drives innovation and new approaches to space. We’re delighted to welcome Professor Aglietti to Surrey to further stimulate research and the application of new space technologies.”
Professor Aglietti commented: “My top priority will be to strengthen the collaboration between the Centre and SSTL to create new synergies and ensure a seamless relation between the research carried out in the Centre and the practical applications pursued by SSTL.”
Professor Aglietti comes to Surrey from the University of Southampton where he was Professor of Aerospace Structural Dynamics and where his research interests included Active control of micro-vibrations on spacecraft, Low cost spacecraft structures and mechanisms, Multifunctional spacecraft structures and Vibrations of electronics for aerospace applications. He has also previously worked at Alenia Spazio and ESA-ESTEC, and is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
The latest issue of Inspire, the newsletter of the International Space Innovation Centre at Harwell, references the results of the first Space CITI (Collaborative Innovation Team Initiative) call for proposals.
ISIC recently completed an Open Call for proposals in response to the Space Collaborative Innovation Team Initiative (Space CITI) programme. Space CITI is part of the National Space Technology Programme, funded by the UK Space Agency, and has the aim to support accelerated innovation and economic growth by funding one or more focussed multi-disciplinary, multi-organisational teams to undertake projects which exploit the unique ISIC facilities. The projects selected for the first round were:
SeaSpace – led by SeaZone Group
Integrated Payload Data Handling System – led by Astrium
Towards a UK space launch capability – led by SSTL
Study into requirements for generic avionics test-beds – led by SSBV
Rocketeer comments: The project by SSTL on launch capability is particularly interesting: Does this refer to existing work on LauncherOne or something else?
Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman and founder of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), yesterday accepted the 2012 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Space Systems award for the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC).
The award, which was presented at the AIAA Space 2012 conference and exhibition at the Pasadena Convention Center in California, recognises outstanding achievements in the architecture, analysis, design, and implementation of space systems. The DMC was nominated for the award by Dr. Jerry Sellers of Teaching Science and Technology, Inc. in Colorado for ‘being an unprecedented example of international cooperation in the application of space systems to the mitigation of human suffering.”
Surrey engineers use games console technology to make “space building blocks”
Space innovators at the University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) are developing ‘STRaND-2’, a twin-satellite mission to test a novel in-orbit docking system based upon XBOX Kinect technology that could change the way space assets are built, maintained and decommissioned.
STRaND-2 is the latest mission in the cutting edge STRaND (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) programme, following on from the smartphone-powered STRaND-1 satellite that is near completion. Similar in design to STRaND-1, the identical twin satellites will each measure 30cm (3 unit Cubesat) in length, and utilise components from the XBOX Kinect games controller to scan the local area and provide the satellites with spatial awareness on all three axes.
Docking systems have never been employed on such small and low cost missions and are usually reserved for big-budget space missions to the International Space Station (ISS), or historically, the Mir space station and the Apollo program. The STRaND team sees the relatively low cost nanosatellites as intelligent “space building blocks” that could be stacked together and reconfigured to build larger modular spacecraft.
SSTL Project Lead Shaun Kenyon explained: “We were really impressed by what MIT had done flying an autonomous model helicopter that used Kinect and asked ourselves: Why has no-one used this in space? Once you can launch low cost nanosatellites that dock together, the possibilities are endless – like space building blocks.”
The STRaND-2 twins will be separated after launch. After the initial phase of system checks, the two satellites will be commanded to perform the docking procedure and, when in close proximity, the Kinect-based docking system will provide the satellites with 3D spatial awareness to align and dock.
Dr Chris Bridges, SSC Project Lead, explains: “It may seem far-fetched, but our low cost nanosatellites could dock to build large and sophisticated modular structures such as space telescopes. Unlike today’s big space missions, these could be reconfigured as mission objectives change, and upgraded in-orbit with the latest available technologies.”
Other applications include the safe removal of space debris and spacecraft maintenance, with a low cost “snap-on” nanosatellite providing backup power, propulsion or additional on-board computing capability.
SSTL's Space Blog interviews Cambridge University Spaceflight, creators of the Scream in Space app which will fly aboard STRaND-1, the smartphone-powered nanosatellite under construction by a combined SSTL/Surrey Space Centre team.
Guildford-based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) will play a key role in a £200 million plus contract for the next phase of the EU's Galileo satellite navigation project. Three contracts were signed on 2nd Feb, by the European Space Agency on behalf of the European Commission at the Commission's London office. European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani and UK Universities and Science Minister David Willetts both witnessed the signing and addressed a gathering of stakeholders and media. The eight satellites ordered will join the 18 satellites already contracted, of which two are in orbit since 21st October 2011, bringing to 26 the number of satellites by end 2015. A second launch of a further two Galileo satellites will take place later this year.
ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dourdain and Science Minister Rt Hon. David Willetts attended the unveiling of SSTL's new £10M, 40,000sq. ft. Kepler Technical Facility on 25th January.
David Willetts said: “The continued success of SSTL is a clear sign that our space industry is thriving. This impressive, high-tech new facility is already manufacturing some of the most advanced satellites in the world, boosting growth and helping the UK stay ahead of the game in space technology.”
The building is co-located with SSTL’s headquarters building in Guildford, UK and will house around 40 permanent staff and up to 100 further project specific staff from across the company at peak test and integration periods. It provides two 125 cubic metre walk-in thermal chambers, a seismic test platform, 15,000kg & 3,200kg monorail cranes, 10,000kg & 8,000kg gantry cranes, and reinforced floors, allowing flexibility for integration and testing of both small and larger spacecraft.
SSTL has announced plans to build a new class of low-cost synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites. The NovaSar-S spacecraft will be 3m x 1m in size, massing roughly 400kg, and are expected to cost around 50 million euros including launch, a small fraction of existing large SAR missions.
Luis Gomes, head of earth observation at SSTL: ""The cost associated with generating the power pulses has always been a big issue, and managing that power,"
"We've addressed this by using new technology - new types of amplifier from commercial terrestrial applications in telecommunications.
"Another issue that has prevented us from doing Sar previously was the technology in terms of data processing. Sar generates a lot of data - 20-30 times more data per second compared to our original optical data processing systems.
"But because optical systems have become more complex as we've gone to higher resolutions, we now have the systems that can cope with SAR."