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UK based enterprise leads the way in high-technology micro-satellite research and development
The campus of the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK is home to Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), a business which has seen staggering growth since it was founded in June 1985. An offshoot of the University, SSTL originally consisted of a small group of academic researchers, whose pioneering spirit has helped it to become a leader in satellite technology. Since 2000, the Company has grown by at least 20% each year, and now employs 200 people generating sales of more than £24million p.a., two-thirds of which are export contracts. Last year, SSTL formed a new company, DMCii, to exploit the imaging data generated by a constellation of its micro-satellites.

With the launch of its 26th satellite planned for 28th December, SSTL has firmly established itself at the forefront of space technology. By adopting a modular approach, SSTL is able to design and supply micro-satellites and mini-satellites at a fraction of the cost and to tighter deadlines than other prestigious space companies.

As a result, SSTL was awarded the contract to supply the first mini-satellite of the Galileo project, a £ multi-billion satellite navigation system initiative co-ordinated by the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA). GIOVE-A (Galileo in-orbit validation element), as it is known, will be the first of 30 satellites in 3 orbits. Dr Jeff Ward, the Managing Director of SSTL and responsible for the manufacture of GIOVE-A, said “GIOVE-A is SSTL’s first complete satellite built for the European Space Agency (ESA) – a major challenge.”

When operational in 2010, the satellites will jointly form the Galileo constellation, capable of providing a global positioning system with an accuracy of a metre or less. The system will deliver a wide range of benefits to users, including emergency services.

SSTL was formed on the basis of a 95% investment by the University of Surrey, with a remit to commercialise the output of its research activities. The business has been headed from the start by Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, who completed BSc and PhD degrees at the University before assuming responsibility for SSTL.

The SSTL Group CEO, Sir Martin, together with his staff, have pursued a strategy to make space technology more affordable through the use of “commercial-off-the-shelf” (COTS) technologies and devices. These consist of units or modules, which can be engineered into tailored solutions capable of a variety of civil and military space applications and space-based business services.

To complement its offering and provide a total package, SSTL has developed a strategic partnership with SpaceX, a new US-based company, which supplies a range of launch vehicles, equally targeted at reducing cost and increasing reliability.

SSTL’s ability to work within a framework of international relationships with governments, research bodies and other institutions has also contributed significantly to its success. Due to the high costs associated with space technology, it is usually necessary for countries to collaborate in order to achieve their mutual aims. SSTL has worked effectively with organisations from many different nations. In fact, there is a truly international atmosphere to the Company, which welcomes employees and students from all parts of the world.

According to the Group Business Director, Dr. Wei Sun, “There is a growing demand for affordable space technology and its various applications, especially in Asia. At SSTL we enjoy an empowered environment that thrives on the interchange of ideas, confident that this will result in the transfer of know-how across the globe.”

The Company’s success has already been recognised by several major accolades, including the 2004 World Technology Network Award for Space and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2005. Looking to the future, SSTL intends to continue to invest in further research into the development of low-Earth observation and geostationary communications satellites.

Notes to editor:

As of Monday 19th December you will be able to keep up to date with the news and build up to the launch by visiting the GIOVE-A blog http://space.ballard.co.uk

Details of Podcasts and other audio and video resources surrounding the event will be posted on the blog above as they become available.

Please contact Stephen Ballard (contact details below) for conceptual photography, illustrative figures and current photography as the launch date nears.

About Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited is an enterprise company formed in 1985 by the University of Surrey to commercialise the results of its innovative small satellite engineering research. SSTL was the first professional organisation to offer low-cost small satellites with rapid response employing advanced terrestrial technologies. Over two decades, we have built a profitable business around our unique approach to space.

Today, SSTL employs over 200 staff and has been involved in 26 small satellite missions, making it the most successful and experienced small satellite supplier in the world.


Press Contact:

Stephen Ballard

Ballard Communications Management (BCM)

Tel: +44 (0)1306 882288

Email: s.ballard@ballard.co.uk

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