DIY satellites take smaller and smaller steps for mankind
Surrey team launches fridge-sized modules and helps keep Britain in
the space race
BY Mark Milner  /  July 7, 2008

Some time this month an intercontinental ballistic missile will blast
off from its silo from beneath the ground in deepest Kazakhstan. It
will not, however, be carrying the nuclear warhead it was designed to
deliver. Instead the payload will include five small satellites
designed and built amid the neatly clipped lawns and ornamental lakes
of the University of Surrey, almost within the shadow of Guildford

The satellites are each the size of a normal fridge. Once they break
away from the ex-Soviet rocket the five will form a constellation but
their purpose is far from astrophysical. When they swing into action
they will beam back pictures of the Earth – capable of collecting,
among other things, evidence of agricultural fraud, illegal oil
dumping, the impact of natural disasters and likely deposits of
minerals. They are the latest in a series of satellites of increasing
sophistication which have been built by Surrey Satellite Technology
Ltd, until recently part of Surrey University and the brainchild of a
team led by the company’s chief executive, Professor Sir Martin

The company’s origins lie in the mid-1970s, a period preceded by the
US Apollo programme and Arthur C Clarke’s 2001. Sweeting, at that time
working on his PhD, was interested in communications. Fellow radio
enthusiasts were building equipment to listen in to Russian and US
weather satellites. Sweeting recalls wanting to join in. “I wanted to
get into space. I did not particularly want to go to the US with Nasa,
ESA [the European Space Agency] was only just getting going and the
British space programme was faltering.” Sweeting and a tiny group
decided the answer was to build their own satellite. At the time
satellites were normally the size of a double decker bus which meant
they were hardly suitable for building in the garage and launching
from the back lawn.

Help, however, was at hand as electronics – from computers to consumer
gadgets – were getting that shrinking feeling. “It was just at the
time technology allowed us to scale down,” according to Sweeting.
Size, or rather the lack of it, was to become SSTL’s trade mark. Its
satellites would be smaller, cheaper and quicker to build.

Satellite on a chip
According to SSTL, a large satellite might weigh more than 1,000kg,
cost $500m and take years to develop. One of its micro-satellites, by
comparison, would weigh 100kg, cost $10m and take 18 months to put
together. The drive to get ever smaller continues. More than a decade
ago work started on developing a satellite the size of a football.
That looks positively Brobdingnagian compared with the coffee mug-
sized affairs being worked on by the university’s satellites centre –
a close ally of SSTL – though the holy grail is a satellite on a chip.

Today, SSTL’s client base includes the Ministry of Defence, the
European Space Agency and a number of governments in Africa and Asia.
Back then, however, the world at large was not much impressed by the
Sweeting vision. “This was in 1978-79. People thought we were pretty
crazy. They said it would not be possible and even if it was it
wouldn’t be useful. And they were the polite ones.”

Sweeting nevertheless decided he would try to build his satellite and,
if it didn’t work, he could follow the advice most commonly proffered
and get a proper job later. “I wanted to do it because I was
interested not because I saw it as a business.” That might appear a
cavalier approach from someone whose professional life was already
firmly rooted in academia though about to branch out into business,
but not, perhaps, from someone whose father was a poet and his mother
an artist. Sweeting and his team – four full-timers, eight part-
timers, and lots of helpers – did manage to beg or borrow the funds
and the equipment to built their first satellite. More to the point,
they somehow managed to persuade Nasa that their tiddler could
piggyback on an American launch vehicle. Apparently it was classed as
ballast. So, in 1981 UoSat-1 went into orbit.

Pulled plug
Whether there would be a second was more problematical. The then prime
minister, Margaret Thatcher, had pulled the plug on funding for
Britain’s space programme, which meant that there was little chance of
public money for a new venture. Sweeting recalls going for a prestige
job, being offered the post and then turning it down to pursue his
dream of becoming an urbane spaceman. The main factor was again the
Americans. Nasa came along and offered another launch slot. But this
time it wanted money – £10,000. One small snip for Nasa but a giant
step for Sweeting and Surrey.

Nevertheless, they went ahead. The company was set up with four people
and £100. “I borrowed my share, I think,” says Sweeting. The
university also gave its backing but Sweeting acknowledges there was
an element of “cottage industry” about it. The US had set a tight
deadline for the British to come up with a new satellite. “We worked
all the hours there were, we begged and borrowed. The first clean room
came from B&Q; wood, polythene sheeting and a vacuum cleaner. It made
a cleanish room.”

There were other elements of Heath Robinson, as Sweeting’s long-
standing collaborator Dr Craig Underwood recalls. One early satellite
had parts taken from a children’s toy called Speak and Spell. Always
the pressure was to keep down the size, to keep down weight and to
keep down costs. The university helped with funds in exchange for a
very substantial stake, which has varied over the years between around
85% and 95%. The company, too, has retained very close links with the
university’s Space Centre, enabling both to benefit from the synergies
between academia and the commercial world. The fact that Sweeting is
chief executive of the former and a director of the latter has clearly
not hindered the maintenance of close links.

Profits taken
The university recently decided to sell out to Astrium, the space arm
of EADS, one of Europe’s premier defence contractors as well as the
owner of planemaker Airbus. Sweeting is happy with the deal. It is
time, he says, for the university to take the profits on its
investment. “Over the last four or five years we have been growing at
20% year on year. It has got to the stage where this is a £40m-a-year
turnover company. It is quite clear the university does not have the
financial resources to allow us to grow and should be putting the
money back into its educational activities. It was a question of
finding the right time and the right partner.” Nevertheless, Sweeting
is adamant the close links between SSTL and the Space Centre will
remain and says Astrium is encouraging the company to pursue “business
as usual” and indeed is happy to see SSTL compete with other parts of
the parent’s space business.

But should Britain become involved in the blue riband of space travel,
manned flight? “We are a small country and we don’t have the resources
to make a significant impact,” Sweeting says. However, he insists
that, while the UK may not be able to finance its own independent
manned programme, it should seek to get involved with those who are
pressing ahead. “You don’t have to have your own manned programme. You
can contribute through infrastructure projects.” SSTL, for example, is
currently working on two projects in relation to future moon
exploration. The key is to ensure that Britain “has a seat at the

Cosmic numbers
$10m The cost, according to SSTL, of manufacturing a micro-satellite
1981 The year that Nasa launched Sweeting’s first satellite, the
£100 The initial investment made by Sweeting and three colleagues
£40m The annual turnover for SSTL – a 20% rise year on year



“Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) has been sending small
satellites into space longer, more successfully and more economically
than anyone else in the world. We have built our reputation as the
world’s premier provider of small satellite missions over 27 years. We
launched our first satellite in partnership with NASA in 1981. Since
then our global business has reached across 5 continents. We have
launched 27 missions – more than anyone else in the small satellite
industry. We specialise in designing, building and launching small
satellites quickly and cost-effectively, making space accessible and

Changing the economics of space
We first changed the economics of space in the late 1970s when we
pioneered ‘commercial off the shelf’ (COTS) satellite technology. This
process took standard consumer technology, such as those used in
personal computers, and adapted them to the unique environment of
space. Until then, satellite equipment was purpose-built for space
travel, at huge expense and taking many years, with the result that
the technology was obsolete by the time of launch.

Our capability
We can build and launch a satellite for any payload under 1,000
kilograms. Every SSTL customer will be offered a spacecraft solution
designed for their needs. In fact, we believe that we are at our best
when given the flexibility to advise customers on a complete solution.
Whilst we mostly supply both the satellite and payload for our
customers, we also undertake to integrate a customer supplied payload
within an SSTL-built platform.

Our customers have used our expert knowledge and in-house capabilities
to produce satellites for:
* Earth observation and imaging
* Securing the Galileo satellite navigation frequencies
* Scientific research
* Military/defence purposes
* Technology demonstration (testing an instrument in space)
With the acquisition of SIRA Electro-Optics in 2006, SSTL’s in-house
optical engineers are producing some of the world’s most sophisticated
cameras and visual technology for customers’ satellites.

The complete satellite lifecycle
We can develop satellites throughout their life cycle – from design
and build through to launch and in-orbit monitoring and maintenance –
or any stage of that cycle. For customers who want to monitor and
maintain their own satellites, we set up their ground station and
train their in-house team. We are able to offer our customers such
flexibility because we design, build, assemble and test our satellites
and almost all their components in-house.”

Martin Sweeting
email : m.sweeting [at] [dot] uk

Craig Underwood
email : c.underwood [at] [dot] uk

“The SSTL story is a showcase of British ingenuity, ambition and
engineering expertise. In the mid-1970s a group of highly skilled
aerospace researchers were working in the Electrical Engineering
Department of the University of Surrey. At the time, space exploration
was something only countries with enormous aerospace budgets, such as
the US and the (then) Soviet Union, could dream about.

Space exploration had been bought somewhat closer when the first man
had set foot on the moon less than a decade earlier, but it was still
far out of reach for most countries. The belief at the time was that
space was such a different environment to Earth that anything sent
into the atmosphere needed to be specially designed for the harsh
conditions of space. Naturally, this made building satellites
incredibly expensive and time-intensive.

Researchers at Surrey believed it could be done more quickly and much
cheaper. They knew that it took up to 15 years to create and test this
space-specific technology, by which time it was often obsolete. “The
consumer market was leading the way in technology investment by then,”
says Sir Martin Sweeting, one of the original researchers and now
Chairman of SSTL. “New computers, mobile phones and DVDs were being
created all the time. Imagine anyone wanting to use a 15 year old PC
these days.”

They decided to experiment by creating a satellite using standard
consumer technology, known as ‘commercial off the shelf’ (COTS)
components. The results were surprising. “There’s no question that
space travel makes for a very bumpy ride. But we tested every
component of the satellite in a specially designed chamber that
replicated the space environment. The chamber exposed everything to
high and low temperatures, high speeds and movement. Everything still
worked afterwards and we still test all our satellite equipment in the
same way,” Sir Martin says.

That first satellite, UoSAT-1 (University of Surrey satellite) was
launched in 1981 with the help of NASA, who had become very interested
in the group’s work. The mission was a great success, outliving its
planned three-year life by more than five years. Most importantly, the
team showed that relatively small and inexpensive satellites could be
built rapidly to perform successful, sophisticated missions. To prove
it, UoSAT-2 was built in in just six months and launched in 1984.

In 1985, the University formed Surrey Satellite Technology Limited
(SSTL) as a spin-out company to transfer the results of its research
into a commercial enterprise able to remain at the forefront of
satellite innovation. Despite the Challenger disaster of 1986
seriously damaging the world’s appetite for space exploration, within
10 years SSTL had launched eight satellites for various governments
and businesses.

The growth in company size and the capability delivered to our
customers has continued to accelerate. Today SSTL employs almost 300
staff, has launched 27 spacecraft, with 14 more under manufacture, and
is delivering missions that provide ciritical and valuable services to
customers across the globe.”

How to build space satellites out of iPods
By Malcolm Moore and Roger Highfield  /  29/12/2005

A company formed by a small team of boffins in Guildford yesterday
launched the first Galileo satellite, beating a rival consortium of
three of Europe’s technology giants. As the rest of the country tucked
into leftovers, the scientists at Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL)
celebrated the launch of Giove-A from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan. SSTL has now launched 26 satellites successfully, and
expects to have a turnover of £30m this year, with pre-tax profits of
around £1.5m. The company has grown by 25pc a year since it was spun
out of Surrey University in 1985. Yesterday, Sir Martin Sweeting, the
chief executive, said the company’s small size had helped it vault
ahead of Alcatel, EADS and Thales, who have formed a consortium to
provide infrastructure for the £2.5billion Galileo project.

The consortium, Galileo Industries, originally tendered at five times
the price quoted by SSTL, but their satellite is still in testing and
not expected to launch until mid-2006. “We specifically make low-cost
and quick satellites,” he said. Giove-A, which weighs 600kg, has gone
from drawing board to launch in 30 months. “What we do is to take
advantage of terrestrial technologies, such as mobile phones and DVD
players. The consumer market has been leading the investment in
technology. “We take these components out of iPods and so on, and work
out whether we can fly them in our spacecraft. Sometimes they will,
and sometimes they will not.” Sir Martin said conventional components
can take up to 15 years to test, by which time they may be obsolete.
“Imagine if you bought a PC that was 15 years old.”

Turning gadgets into satellites became a necessary way of doing
business after Lady Thatcher cancelled the national space programme in
1987, he added. “We realised that there was no money in the UK and we
had better set up a company to sell our wares and live by our wits. It
is very easy to spend other people’s money. If you spend money you
earn yourself you tend to be a lot more innovative and it lasts
longer.” The group’s success will give the European Space Agency a
headache, as it tries to decide who will make the 30 satellites which
will eventually orbit under the Galileo banner.

The project, which has been described as “the biggest, whitest
elephant ever to become weightless” will create an alternative
navigation system to the American GPS technology. Eventually, drivers
will be able to switch between the two. The Galileo Industries
consortium has been embarrassed by both the speed and the economy of
SSTL, but thanks to European politics, the giants are still likely to
win the lion’s share of the future contracts.

SSTL will not be building the next four Galileo satellites, but will
tender for some of the others. If it is successful, the project could
transform the size of the company and attract hundreds of millions of
pounds of investment. “What we have got to keep in mind is that we do
not lose what makes us successful. We are quite small, at 200 staff,
and clean and lean. We do not want to become like a large elephant,”
said Sir Martin. He added that managing the company’s current growth
spurt was “difficult”.

However, he is considering a change in the ownership of the group in
order to reduce the 80pc stake held by Surrey University. The rest of
SSTL is half owned by the staff, and half by SpaceX, a US rocket-
maker. SpaceX is the latest venture by Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who
sold his PayPal internet payment technology to Ebay for $1.5billion.
Sir Martin said he may consider a public offering, but investors may
not be brave enough to snap up shares in SSTL. “Space is a very risky
business. We’ve launched 26 satellites and not lost any of them, but
the odds are against us. The markets would probably be very nervous
about that,” he said.

SSTL is also active in providing satellites that map the earth’s
terrain. One set of satellites, called the Disaster Monitoring
Constellation, is designed to help co-ordinate aid efforts in the wake
of calamities such as the Asian tsunami. However, the initiative has
raised eyebrows in the US, which complains that SSTL is passing
satellite-building secrets to the Chinese, who have two probes in the
Constellation. Sir Martin dismisses the charge. “There are concerns
with parts of the US who see their space superiority being eroded by
the Chinese and others. There is no real technology that is being
transferred. We are teaching them how to build satellites, but the
technology is already available.” Nevertheless, for SSTL to be on the
radar when it comes to the likes of NASA, the upstart boffins in
Guildford must be on their way up.”

“SSTL satellites are baselined from previous missions and tailored to
individual customer requirements. The design and manufacture of all
these elements is undertaken in-house. SSTL follows a heritage based
design and implementation approach while at the same time providing
performance matched to the mission requirements. Tried and tested
units are flown alongside innovative, cutting edge units to provide
the customer with the optimal mission solution, providing a reliable
spacecraft that is a high performance solution. In line with its
heritage based approach, SSTL system product line revolves around a
set of highly customisable “platforms”. Inherent modularity in the
design means that these can satisfy almost any mission requirement.”

Used in the highly successful Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC)
which has achieved more than 10 years in-orbit heritage. The SSTL 100
provides the core capability to carry a wide range of payloads. Active
variants include SSTL 100i 32 (1st generation DMC) and SSTL 100i 22
(2nd generation DMC).

An enhanced version of the SSTL 100 platform with substantially
improved payload capacity, improved propulsion and added high attitude
agility. It is ideally suited for use of customer supplied payloads
given its straightforward interface scheme. Active variants include
SSTL 150i 4 Agile (Beijing-1),SSTL 150i 2.5 Agile and SSTL 150

The natural evolution of the SSTL 150 platform, designed for highly
demanding applications. Very flexible configuration, capable of
supporting a large spectrum of implementations, payloads and
structural configurations. Current variants are optimised for optical
EO (from 2.5m to sub 1m resolutions), SAR and science EO payloads.
Active variants include SSTL 300i 2.5 Agile, SSTL 300i 1.0 Agile, SSTL
300i UHR, SSTL 300L and SSTL 300r.

Versatile, low cost communications, navigation and exploration
platform. The SSTL 900 is designed for MEO, GEO, HEO and
interplanetary orbits. Flight heritage achieved as Europe’s first
Galileo satellite, GIOVE-A.

Customised Platforms
SSTL’s platforms are based on a common core of avionics which are used
alongside mission specific avionics that have been developed to
provide customised solutions. The high degree of modularity and
flexibility used allows new developments and techniques to be readily
transferred from one platform to another as demand in size or
capability changes.


SSTL has pioneered the use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) optics
for space imaging, producing stunning results at exceptionally low
cost. SSTL is able to offer state-of-the art digital imagers for a
range of remote sensing applications.

Rapid monitoring: Precision farming, regional yield forecasting,
forest inventory, disaster monitoring, environmental management
Multi-angle measurement: Vegetation classification, air quality
Littoral applications: Water quality, seabed classification
Military applications: Surveillance, target detection, target

A highly versatile hyperspectral system with more than 7-years
inflight heritage, offering in-orbit programmable selection of
spectral bands location, bandwidth and ground sampling distance. In
orbit since 2001 and provides the highest spatial resolution of any
hyperspectral system flying in the world, attracting a substantial
international user community.

VHRI 250
Compact, very high resolution, low power pushbroom imager. Provides
high resolution imagery in 5 wavebands, using five linear detector
arrays separated in the along-track direction in the common focal
plane of a telescope.

Wide Swath DMC MSI
Multispectral pushbroom imager with effective sensor length of 27,500
pixels for each of its three separate waveband channels. At an orbital
height of 686km this gives a 600km swath width for each image.


“As part of its unique mission prime contracting experience, SSTL can
offer customers a complete turnkey ground segment solution providing
all the hardware and software necessary to operate, maintain, process
and archive data from SSTL spacecraft. SSTL has significant experience
in this area and has installed more than 20 systems in locations
across the world.”

Mission Control Centre and Ground Station
This is a complete system for TT&C and payload data retrieval from
SSTL spacecraft utilising SSTL produced software for command and
control. We have various groundstation options available:
* S and X band systems
* Tracking Antennas systems – 3m to 7.3m. Heated and Radome
options available
* SSTL Netcentric Communications racks allow Ground Stations to be
located away from Mission Control Centres
* SSTL Minirack systems integrate with existing or customer
furnished Ground Station infrastructures

Mission Planning System
This allows operators to schedule and task the spacecraft efficiently
with a minimum number of staff. Operators and payload specialists are
able to view satellite passes, providing observation opportunities for
specific areas of interest.

Image Processing & Storage and Archiving
Software systems are supplied to support radiometric and geometric
processing of medium resolution image data, including:
* Smart-i radiometric data processor
* Keystone suite of modules
* Smart-i catalogue

SSTL can provide hard disk based data archiving systems sized
appropriately for the mission with additional high capacity tape
library backup depending on the customers requirements.

SSTL can handle all aspects of installation from initial site surveys
to establish a suitable environment for the Ground Segment, through
facilities requirements, shipping, installation and final
Full training can be provided to the customer on the operational
aspects and basic maintenance of the Mission Control Centre, Ground
Station and Antenna system.
Mission Support
SSTL provides a 24/7 helpline with back-up operations from our own
ground stations in the UK.
SSTL can provide maintenance support for the Ground Segment throughout
the mission lifetime, including yearly service visits, email and
telephone helplines and service and repair by SSTL qualified

“SSTL satellites are already being used to provide critical and
commercially valuable services to a wide range of users. The DMC
constellation provides timely information to support emergency and aid
organisations to respond to disasters across the globe, the GIOVE-A
spacecraft continues to broadcast the Galileo signals that are being
used to refine the European navigation service and the RapidEye system
will soon be providing the first global, rapid revisit information to
improve agricultural solutions. The affordable capability of SSTL
missions is opening new commercial, scientific and security
applications for a wider set of customers.”

Remote Monitoring
Advances in digital imaging and small-satellite avionics mean that
small satellites can now provide outstanding value for Earth remote-
sensing missions. SSTL initiated low cost remote sensing missions,
launching solid-state imaging payloads as early as 1985 and has
continued to lead the way in single-satellite and constellation
missions. Building on innovative technology and unparalleled practical
experience, we are able to offer our customers a remote sensing
mission that provides the data they need at a surprisingly low price.

Remote sensing missions are typically used for:
* Land use and land cover analysis
* Environmental monitoring
* Precision agriculture
* Urban development monitoring
* Disaster monitoring
* Archaeology
* Geological survey
* Regional management system

Telecommunications / Navigation
SSTL has the capability to offer a full complement of
telecommunications and navigation products ranging from complete end
to end systems, through platform or payload provision to subsystem
equipment supply. Complete solutions are offered across the GEO and
LEO communications and navigation product ranges with rapid schedules
and low costs. The GIOVE-A satellite system, providing in-orbit
heritage for the SSTL GEO product, is the first European Galileo
satellite. It has achieved an availability of 99.8% and exceeds its
mission lifetime. The platform accommodates a fully redundant dual
frequency payload with three separate signal generation chains capable
of generating representative Galileo signals, broadcasting in the
E2L1E1, E6 and E5 frequency bands.

Technology Demonstration
Operational space missions, whether scientific, military or commercial
demand reliable, high-performance solutions. The basic technologies
required for true state-of-the-art performance are seldom designed for
the harsh space environment. However, a technology demonstration
mission based on the appropriate SSTL platform can validate key
technologies in the orbital environment rapidly and affordably. Past
SSTL technology demonstration tasks have ranged from early tests on
solid-state devices, through to missions such as S80/T, Clementine and
CERISE and more recently, CFESat, which validated payloads and
initiated services. SSTL’s GIOVE-A mission was the technology
demonstrator for ESA’s Galileo System Test Bed, which has validated an
entire navigation payload and signal structure. SSTL nanosatellites,
microsatellites and minisatellites have hosted customer technology
payloads including solar cells, communications transmitters, an
internet router and a GPS receiver, as well as numerous SSTL R&D
payloads. With a rapid order-to-orbit time, SSTL provide customers
with a technology demonstration mission that will rapidly reduce costs
and risks for an operational programme.

SSTL small satellites are playing an increasing role in space science,
enabling compact, sophisticated payloads to access the orbital
environment, both affortably and in rapid time frames. Small
satellites and space instruments can be used to underpin national
science programmes. This offers continual progress, innovation and
improving economic returns which will ultimately enrich the
international programmes. The benefits of national small satellites
and space instruments are wide ranging and include:
*      More flight opportunities for more principal investigators
*      More focussed missions with less pressure to accommodate
various non-related instruments
*      Faster turnaround from concept to results
*      Better response to emerging opportunities
*      The national distinction of pioneering next generation
*      De-risking expensive projects
*      Opportunities to bargain and collaborate in bi-laterals
*      Opportunities to train next generation scientists and
*      Prestigious, strategic asset focussed on national goals

There is huge potential for small satellite exploitation in scientific
applications. A roadmap towards complex mission objectives can be
achieved with low cost satellites, individually, and in constellations
and formations to increase data sampling and synthesise much larger
satellites.  Small satellites can be co-located alongside a larger,
traditional satellite to mitigate payload accommodation challenges and
to add extra payloads once the main satellite has been launched.

Scientific Missions
Small satellite missions can cover a wide range of space science
*      Optical and gamma ray astronomy
*      Space environment
*      Solar science
*      Upper atmosphere science
*      Lunar and planetary

Particular areas of research and development at SSTL include looking
at the use of small satellites for:
* Mapping and disaster monitoring
* Hyperspectral imaging
* GPS reflectometry for sea state monitoring
* Earthquake science
* Infrared and thermal infrared imaging

SSTL promotes understanding of scientific requirements across a range
of earth and space science missions. SSTL small satellites offer a
valuable service in:
* Offering early payload flight experience for in-orbit
demonstration and test bed activities
* Providing complementarity with larger missions
* Performing specific scientific applications affordably and in
rapid timeframes
* Constellations and formations to increase data sampling and
synthesise much larger satellites

Science Payloads
Through our alliance with the University of Surrey, we have had the
privilege of hosting several ground-breaking science payloads
developed within the Surrey Space Centre.
* Ozone monitor

Space radiation interests space physicists and is of concern to
satellite engineers. By designing small, sophisticated radiation
monitors and placing them on a number of microsatellite missions,
Surrey scientists have built a global reputation for monitoring the
orbital radiation environment and its effects on the commercial-off-
the-shelf (COTS) electronic devices used in SSTL satellites. This long
term campaign of measuring cosmic particles and trapped radiation in a
variety of orbits has also produced novel scientific results and
increasedthe company’sunderstanding of the dynamics of the radiation
belts. Following the acquisition of SIRA Electro-Optics in 2006, SSTL
also offer high precision optical instruments and sub-systems from our
Class 10 facilities at Sevenoaks, Kent.

SSTL is designing satellites for science missions beyond earth orbit:
to the moon, inner planets, near Earth objects (NEOs), Mars and Venus.
Studies for ESA, NASA and our own technology demonstration programmes,
have shown that many of the cost-effective engineering solutions that
we have employed successfully in LEO and MEO can be translated
effectively to these more-demanding environments. SSTL has already
developed a number of early-phase mission concepts which tackle the
challenges of radiation, navigation, propulsion and
telecommunications. SSTL aims to lower the cost of entry for
exploratory scientific and technology demonstration missions
previously the preserve of the most expensive and time consuming
missions. Reduced costs bring more frequent opportunities and enable
bolder plans, such as the routine monitoring from space of NEOs that
may threaten to collide with Earth.

Concept Studies

Architecture study on Deep Space Navigation and Communication
Subcontracted to Thales Alenia Space for a role in one of the ESA ‘In-
Space Architecture’ studies, SSTL’s role was todefine in-space and
surface navigation and communications data relay requirements as well
as suggesting preliminary systems for addressing such requirements
using small, low cost missions. Work has explored lunar and Mars
architectures and options for small satellites supporting NEO.Low Cost
Lunar Mission

Feasibility Study
SSTL conducted an in-house funded lunar mission feasibility study in
2002 to assess the performance and cost of an ‘entry level’ mission.
This work followed on from the ESA funded Phase A and Phase B study on
LUNARSAT. The study concluded that the mission was technically
feasible with a target cost of €25M including platform, operations,
launch and minimal new technology. A 10-50 kg scientific payload could
be supported in lunar orbit for 6-24 months.

Lunar Mission Options Study
UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) funded pre-phase A
study on options for a low cost UK-led lunar mission. The study
investigated various mission options, their feasibilities and
identified a number of suitable mission concepts, as well as producing
a preliminary cost estimate. Mission concepts generated included
orbiter/penetrator (MoonLITE) and soft lander (MoonRaker). Subsequent
work has assembled a UK industry team in preparation for a full Phase
A study to commence in 2008 and produced inputs for a joint UK-NASA
working group exploring collaborative lunar missions.

Venus Technology Reference Studies
Detailed system study into low cost methods of Venus exploration,
funded by ESA Science Payloads and Advanced Concepts Office (value
€350k, prime contractor). Mission consisted of a science orbiter,
relay satellite and atmospheric entry probe delivering along lifetime
aerobot for in-situ exploration of the Venus atmosphere.

Earth Re-Entry Vehicle (EVD) Study
Pre Phase A study to design technology demonstration missiion to
simulate entry conditions for a sample return missionto Mars. The high
delta-V carrier spacecraft had to accelerate the re-entry capsule to a
relative velocity of 12.8 km/s for re-entry into the Earth’s

Exploratory Missions

Lunar Mission Options Study
UK Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) funded pre-Phase A
study on options for a low cost UK-led lunar mission. The study
investigated various mission options, their feasibilities and
identified a number of suitable mission concepts, as well as producing
a preliminary cost estimate. Mission concepts generated included
orbiter/penetrator (MoonLITE) and soft lander (MoonRaker). Subsequent
work has assembled a UK industry team in preparation for a full Phase
A study to commence in 2008 and produced inputs for a joint UK-NASA
working group exploring collaborative lunar missions.

Magnolia Lunar Navigation / Communication Demonstrator
SSTL has been awarded a multi-million dollar mission design and
training contract with Mississippi State University under a NASA
collaborative research agreement. The objective is to establish a low
cost lunar mission concept to support the US Vision fo Space
Exploration. The Magnolia mission will be developed to PDR level,
tailored to suit the requirements of a Ka-band communications relay
payload under development by NASA.

Small satellite constellations are financially viable, enable rapid
revisit imaging and provide flexibility for replenishing space assets
for data continuity. SSTL conceived the innovative and uniqe Disaster
Monitoring Constellation (DMC), the first Earth observation
constellation of low cost small satellites providing daily images for
applications including global disaster monitoring.

The DMC provides:
* Daily revisit
* Multi-spectral imagery (Landsat-ETM 2, 3 & 4)
* Wide swath (600km )
* 32m GSD resolution
* 4m PAN

SSTL has also supplied the platforms for the 5-satellite RapidEye
constellation which is due for launch in 2008. RapidEye is a small
satellite commercial mission being developed by MacDonald Dettwiler &
Associates (MDA). This unique system will enable unprecedented global
monitoring of the Earth’s surface. The mission will provide rapid
delivery of land information products and services to the agricultural
industry for crop monitoring and mapping, yield predictions and
natural disaster assessment.
* Daily revisit
* Multi-spectral imagery
* 6.5m GSD resolution



EADS Astrium signs an agreement to acquire Surrey Satellite Technology Limited

Stevenage and Guildford – 7 April 2008: EADS Astrium, Europe’s leading
space company, has entered into an agreement to acquire the innovative
University of Surrey spin-out company Surrey Satellite Technology
Limited (SSTL), which specialises in the design and manufacture of
small and micro satellites. This landmark deal provides the financial
and industrial resources required for SSTL’s expansion and future
development. Completion of the acquisition is subject to obtaining the
relevant regulatory approval.

“In the UK we are renowned for our design and manufacture of
telecommunications satellites, interplanetary spacecraft and satellite
services provision. SSTL is one of the great success stories of the UK
space industry and will be a substantial complement to what we can
offer customers around the world with its expertise in small and micro
satellites and their innovative approach to developing new markets for
space,” said Colin Paynter, CEO of Astrium in the UK.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL, has been an
active ambassador for the UK space industry for many years and
considers the acquisition as essential: “SSTL operates in a highly
competitive global market. If we are to continue changing the
economics of space and provide the innovative solutions our customers
demand we must expand and maintain our R&D investment. This
acquisition strengthens SSTL enormously whilst preserving our unique
approach to space.”

Professor Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of the University of
Surrey commented: “This is a great move for both the University and
SSTL. On completion, this will represent one of the largest cash spin-
outs from any UK university. It will also allow the Company to realise
its full potential as a rapidly growing and leading supplier of small
and micro satellites, whilst the University retains the benefit of
close interaction with SSTL and its new partner EADS Astrium. By
retaining a small stake in SSTL the University shows its commitment to
both the future of the Company and space research itself.”

SSTL is joining EADS Astrium following a decision by the University of
Surrey to sell its majority stake of circa 80% in the small satellite
manufacturer. SSTL will remain an independent UK company with its
individual brand and unique approach to space following the agreement,
whilst benefiting from access to the resources of a large corporation
including design, manufacturing and test facilities. Astrium will
benefit from enhanced links with the University of Surrey to support
staff training and development, also leading to greater cooperation
and increased research on space technology and systems.

Astrium is one of the world’s leaders for its expertise in space
transportation, spacecraft and satellite services including prime
contractor for Ariane 5, the Columbus space laboratory and the
Automated Transfer Vehicle for the International Space Station, and
its leading-edge large and complex geostationary telecommunications
satellites, and the Skynet 5 secure communications system for the UK
Ministry of Defence. SSTL will complement Astrium’s existing space
capabilities that include space transportation, satellites and

Under the share purchase agreement, SSTL will be owned by EADS Astrium
NV in the Netherlands. Completion of the transaction remains subject
to approval by the relevant merger control authorities. The agreement
sees long-term research collaboration between the University of Surrey
and EADS Astrium and will further advance the University’s cutting
edge space research capacity. The collaboration will also allow
Astrium to benefit from staff training and development opportunities
afforded by the links with the University. The sale will support the
already-strong presence that Guildford and the south-east have in the
aeronautical and space industries, creating a centre of expertise for
space technology. This will allow for the region to benefit from the
Government’s commitment to invest in the UK space industry.
About Astrium
Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, is dedicated to providing
civil and defence space systems and services. In 2007, Astrium had a
turnover of €3.55 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the
United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of
activity are Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital
infrastructure, and Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground
segment, and its wholly owned subsidiary Astrium Services for the
development and delivery of satellite services. In the UK, Astrium
employs more than 2,500 space engineers, scientists and technicians.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In
2007, EADS generated revenues of €39.1 billion and employed a
workforce of more than 116,000.

About SSTL
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) develops innovative
technologies to change the economics of space, delivering cost
effective satellite missions within rapid timescales. The Company is a
recognized world leader in the design, manufacture and operation of
high performance small satellites for the international market with
experience gained over more than 25 years and 27 missions launched.
SSTL employs 270 staff working on LEO and interplanetary missions,
turnkey satellite platforms and space-proven satellite subsystems and
optical systems. The Company also provides know-how transfer and
training programmes and consultancy services, and performs studies for
ESA, NASA and commercial customers related to platform design, mission
analysis and planning.

About the University of Surrey
The University of Surrey is one of the UK’s leading professional,
scientific and technological universities with a world class research
profile and a reputation for excellence in teaching and research.
Ground-breaking research at the University is bringing direct benefit
to all spheres of life – helping industry to maintain its competitive
edge and creating improvements in the areas of health, medicine, space
science, the environment, communications, defence and social policy.
In addition to the campus on 150 hectares just outside Guildford,
Surrey, the University also owns and runs the Surrey Research Park,
which provides facilities for 140 companies employing 2,700 staff. The
Sunday Times names Surrey as ‘The University for Jobs’ which
underlines the university’s growing reputation for providing high
quality, relevant degrees.

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