Surrey Satellite Technology

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Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd
Industry Aerospace
Founded Guildford, Surrey, UK (1985)
Headquarters Guildford, Surrey
Key people
Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Group Executive Chairman
Dr John Forrest, Deputy Chairman,

Dr Matt Perkins, former CEO.

Patrick Wood, CEO from 1 April 2015
Products Satellites and related services
Revenue £2.6m on £92m sales for FY 2011.[1] £30m turnover, £1.5m pre-tax profit were expected for FY 2006.[2]
Number of employees
Slogan Changing the economics of space
2003-6: Affordable access to space

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, or SSTL, is a spin-off company of the University of Surrey, now majority-owned by EADS Astrium, that builds and operates small satellites. Its satellites began as amateur radio satellites known by the UoSAT (University of Surrey SATELLITE) name or by an OSCAR (Orbital Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio) designation. SSTL cooperates with the University's Surrey Space Centre, which does research into satellite and space topics.

SSTL moved into remote sensing services with the launch of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) in 2002 and an associated child company, DMC International Imaging. SSTL also adopted the Internet Protocol for the DMC satellites it builds and operates, migrating from use of the AX.25 protocol popular in amateur radio. The CLEO Cisco router in Low Earth Orbit, on board the UK-DMC satellite along with a network of payloads, takes advantage of this adoption of the Internet Protocol. SSTL is also developing a new Geostationary Minisatellite Platform-Transfer orbit variant (GMP-T) aimed at the telecommunications market under the brand name SSTL-900.

The University sold a 10% share of SSTL to SpaceX in January 2005. It then agreed to sell its majority share (roughly 80% of the capital) to EADS Astrium in April 2008.[3] In August 2008 SSTL opened a US subsidiary.[4]

SSTL was awarded the Queen's Award for Technological Achievement in 1998, and the Queen's Awards for Enterprise in 2005. In 2006 SSTL won the Times Higher Education Supplement award for outstanding contribution to innovation and technology.[5] In 2009 SSTL ranked 89 out of the 997 companies that took part in the Sunday Times Top 100 companies to work for.[6]

Recent satellites and launches

  • A Constellation of 3 Earth Observation Satellites (DMC-3) - Nominally sub 1m resolution
  • TechDemoSat
  • KazEOSat-2
  • Five RapidEye satellites, successfully launched from Baikonur on 29 August 2008.
  • UK-DMC 2 and Deimos-1 were launched on a Dnepr-1 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on 29 July 2009.
  • NigeriaSat-2 and NX satellites, successfully launched on 17 August 2011.
  • exactView-1, successfully launched on 22 July 2012 on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Customer: MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates (MDA)
Mission objective: To provide a satellite-based Resident Space Object (RSO) observing service that will provide accurate tracking data on deep space orbiting objects. Sapphire is the Canadian Department of National Defence's first dedicated operational military satellite. Its space-based electro-optical sensor will track man-made space objects in Earth orbits between 6000 and 40,000 km as part of Canada's continued support of Space Situational Awareness and the U.S. Space Surveillance Network by updating the U.S. Satellite Catalogue that is used by both NORAD and Canada.[7]
Satellite platform: SSTL-150
  • STRaND-1:[8] Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Development 1, launched in 2013, flies several new technologies for space applications and demonstration including the use of Android (operating system) open source operating system on a Smartphone.

Satellites under construction

Customer: NPP VNIIEM (Russia)
Mission objective: Environmental monitoring
Avionics and software

NovaSAR - A novel small satellite approach to Synthetic Aperture Radar. Part funded by UK Government, SAR Payload supplied by Airbus D&S

GMP (Geostationary Minisatellite Platform)[10]
Customer: European Space Agency & British National Space Centre
Mission objective: Geostationary communications satellite platform baselined for a variety of missions including C, Ku, X-band[when?]
Satellite platform: SSTL-900
EarthCARE [11]
Customer: Astrium GmbH (now Airbus Defence and Space)
Mission objective: As part of the Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP) led by ESA to cover primary research objectives, the EarthCARE mission will be the third Earth Explorer Core Mission. The mission will be implemented in collaboration with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency who will provide one of the core instruments. The EarthCARE mission has been specifically defined with the basic objective of improving the understanding of cloud-aerosol-radiation interactions so as to include them correctly and reliably in climate and numerical weather prediction models. EarthCARE will meet these objectives by measuring simultaneously the vertical structure and horizontal distribution of cloud and aerosol fields together with outgoing radiation over all climate zones. SSTL's role in this mission is to provide a Multi Spectral Imager (MSI) Instrument by development, manufacturing, testing and operations support during Phase B/C/D/E1.[12]
[13] Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Development 2 intends to launch[when?] several new technologies for space applications and demonstration including the use of Kinect laser technology to dock nanosatellites together.
Customer: National Space Organization (Taiwan)
Mission objective: Atmospheric limb sounding by GNSS radio occultation, ionospheric research; follow-on mission to COSMIC/FORMOSAT-3.


SSTL 100 was used in Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC). 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).[citation needed]
Surrey is developing a satellite bus "optimized to the design of LauncherOne", under development by Virgin Galactic[15]
An SSTL-100 platform with substantially improved payload capacity, improved propulsion and added high attitude agility. Active variants include SSTL-150i 4 Agile (Beijing-1),SSTL-150i 2.5 Agile and SSTL-150 RapidEye.[citation needed]
Model of a SSTL-300 satellite
SSTL 300 was 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.[citation needed]
Low-cost communications, versatile, 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.[citation needed]

See also


  1. SSTL Revenues and Profit Down Sharply, Peter de Selding, Space News, 15 February 2007.
  2. How to build space satellites out of iPods, Malcolm Moore and Roger Highfield, Daily Telegraph, 29 December 2005.
  3. EADS Astrium signs an agreement to acquire Surrey Satellite Technology Limited from the University of Surrey, press release, 7 April 2008.
  4. Surrey Satellite Technology US opens for business, SSTL press release, 5 August 2008.
  5. SSTL wins Times Higher award, 16 November 2006.
  6. SSTL earn Sunday Times Award, SSTL space blog, 17 MArch 2009.
  7. SSTL's 40th satellite platform launch: Sapphire reaches orbit,, 26 February 2013
  8. "STRaND-1 smartphone nanosatellite". Retrieved 2 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Lomonosov mission page from SSTL". Retrieved 2 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "GMP Mission page from SSTL". Retrieved 2 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "EarthCARE" (PDF). Retrieved 2 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Retrieved 2 May 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "FORMOSAT-7 Mission Page from SSTL". Retrieved 2 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Virgin Galactic relaunches its smallsat launch business". NewSpace Journal. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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