Sevenoaks, United Kingdom
Sevenoaks, United Kingdom

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 name or by an OSCAR 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 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 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 to EADS Astrium in April 2008. In August 2008 SSTL opened a US subsidiary.SSTL was awarded the Queen's Award for Technological Achievement in 1998, and the Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2005. In 2006 SSTL won the Times Higher Education Supplement award for outstanding contribution to innovation and technology.In 2009 SSTL ranked 89 out of the 997 companies that took part in the Sunday Times Top 100 companies to work for.On Wednesday 5 September 2012, one of SSTL's employees and his family were killed in a suspected contract killing in the Chevaline killings. Wikipedia.


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News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.theengineer.co.uk

Andrea Cullis, media relations manager at Warwick University, tells The Student Engineer about the satellite project giving students a real taste for space. NanoRacks CubeSats being launched from the ISS (Credit: NASA) Space – it’s the final frontier and all that, and since 2006 students at Warwick University have been making steady steps to get there through the Warwick University Satellite Project (WUSAT). Every year, a small group of final year engineering undergraduates are assembled to progress and produce the next incarnation of WUSAT. What began as the electrical power sub-system team for a European Space Agency moon-orbiting satellite eventually evolved into designing, engineering and launching Warwick’s own CubeSats – miniaturised satellites for space research, made up of multiple cubic units of set proportions. WUSAT-1 went up on a high-altitude weather balloon in 2013. WUSAT-2 was launched via a Rexus rocket from the Swedish Space Centre in 2015. Now, this year’s team has begun work on WUSAT-3, with the aim of launching it to the International Space Station (ISS) where it will be deployed into Low-Earth Orbit (approximately 400km) via the NanoRacks CubeSat deployment system onboard the ISS. In other words – proper space! This year’s WUSAT project line-up is made up of seven undergraduate engineering students, with three PhD students – all former WUSAT team members – lending a hand. “The WUSAT project has really developed over the years,” said Dr Bill Crofts, the academic leading Warwick’s space race. “From our initial dabble in the area in 2006, it has grown into a standalone student-led satellite engineering programme. I think we’re pretty unique in the fact that this is undergraduate-led and that the work counts, as a final year project, toward the students’ MEng degree programme.” “And it is demanding and high-level stuff. We have industry sponsors who give support, commitment and advice by the bucket load. And of course the projects lead up to those very exciting launch moments.” Also leading the team is Prof Julia Hunter-Anderson, an experienced space systems engineer who is helping with the systems engineering aspects of the project as well as pursuing other leads that will support the development of the mission and its place on the European Space Agency programme to launch via the International Space Station. The current WUSAT design is the most ambitious to date. WUSAT-3 will be a three-unit CubeSat satellite carrying a high-resolution direction finder payload. The direction finder will be designed to locate and monitor the status of bird and animal migration smart tags working in support of the ICARUS system that is also installed on the ISS. Team member Jenny Barker, 21, who is specialising in electronic engineering, explained: “The satellite will pick up signals from animal tags and position them against a photograph taken of the earth. This will give scientists the ability to map animal migration patterns.” Mechanical engineering student, Jonathan Cooper, 23, added: “Our CubeSat is a low cost option for data tracking, providing valuable data to wildlife scientists and conservationists. The deployable antenna design we’re working on will be a key feature of this mission and successful deployment would be a unique achievement for CubeSat technology.” Taking on a project like this means the students have had to pick up new skills ‘on the job’. “The project itself has a huge amount of technical content,” said Jonathan (pictured). “I have designed the Attitude Determination and Control System that stabilises the satellite and keeps it in the correct orientation.” The challenge isn’t just about building parts that work. The mission is also about building the team. WUSAT’s key partner is Roke Manor Research, which proposed the payload concept and made the brilliant link to the ICARUS wildlife monitoring system operated by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. Industry support has also come from Harwin Interconnects, Thales Alenia Space, Surrey Satellite Technology, RS Components, and SolidWorks, as well as specialist businesses like EuroCircuits and Proctor Group. Working on a prestigious project like WUSAT gives the students the chance to liaise with industry and operate in a project team. “We work concurrently on many different types of systems and this is giving us experience of how projects work in the real world,” said 23-year-old Sumira Awan, who is specialising in systems engineering. “Working with sponsors also means we have to communicate with external people who can influence the project.” For all their hard work though, the 2017 team members won’t be at the helm for the big launch. This particular set of students have the difficult but noble job of passing the baton to the next team, with the hope that their hard work will end up contributing to the launch of the satellite to the ISS in 2018. “These are rolling projects, so it does mean that there won’t be a launch every year,” explained Dr Crofts. “But the experience the students get from working on something as technically and personally challenging as a satellite project pays off for every single participant – whether they get the ‘glamourous’ launch or not!” Jenny Barker, who has secured a graduate position with Leonardo’s Airborne and Space Systems Division when she graduates, sums it up. “I have learnt so much from working on WUSAT,” she said. “From general engineering project management and systems design to detailed space engineering of a satellite. This project has been an invaluable part of my degree where I’ve learnt leadership, teamwork, communication and organisational skills.”


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SPA.2013.2.3-02 | Award Amount: 11.73M | Year: 2013

A huge amount of debris has progressively been generated since the beginning of the space era. Most of the objects launched into space are still orbiting the Earth and today these object and their by-products represent a threat both in space and on Earth. In Space, debris lead to collisions and therefore to damages to operational satellites. For both issues, a credible solution has emerged over the recent years: actively removing heavy debris objects by capturing them and then either disposing them by destructive re-entry in Earth atmosphere or disposing them in graveyard orbits. The REMOVEDEBRIS project aims to demonstrate key technologies for ADR in these three main domains by performing in-orbit demonstrations representative of an ADR mission. The specific key technologies that will be demonstrated as part of this project are: (i) Capture technologies such as nets and harpoons (ii) De-orbiting technologies such as electric propulsion and drag augmentation (iii) Proximity Rendezvous operations technologies based on vision-based navigation. The technology demonstrations will be carried in orbit using a micro satellite test-bed, a worlds first. The micro satellite will carry the ADR payloads together with 2 deployable nanosatellites (CubeSats). Through a series of operations, the nanonsatellites will be ejected, re-captured, inspected and de-orbited, thereby demonstrating the ADR key technologies.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: SPA.2010.2.1-04;SPA.2010.2.3-2 | Award Amount: 2.83M | Year: 2011

The goal of this project is to develop and flight test a novel, low cost/riskdeorbiting device based on a 25-m squared Solar Sail with a total mass (including the satellite platform) of 3 kg. The approach will be to modify Solar Sail deployment technology for use as a satellite and/or rocket upper stage deorbiting system. The effectiveness of such deorbiting device is predicted to be high at altitudes lower than 900 km for minisatellites (20 to 500 kg) if deorbiting time constraints of 25 years are being considered. Recent studies show an increasing probability of collisions between intact spacecraft and debris. If no countermeasures are taken, the number of debris particles will grow with a growth rate in the order of up to 5% per year. The historical practice of abandoning spacecraft and upper stages at the end of mission life has resulted in 8,500 tones of space debris in low earth orbit. The uncontrolled growth of the space debris population has to be avoided in order to enable safe operations in space for the future.However, reviews by panels of independent international experts have repeatedly failed to identify a single plan which is both technically feasible in the near-term and economically viable. The consortium will design and develop a state of the art deorbiting system foe LEO satellites and upper stages with a mass less than 500 kg. The deorbiting system will be deployed after the useful time of the satellite/upper stage and will be used to remove/deorbit the object from its orbit within 25 years as required by Space Agency recommendations. An example of the kind of impact this project can have is that if one assumes that all satellites and upper stages with a mass < 500 kg launched after 2013 to 2020 would hypothetically carry the proposed deorbiting system developed by the DEOBRIT-SAIL team space, debris (> 10 cm) will be reduced by 70%.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: COMPET-01-2014 | Award Amount: 2.73M | Year: 2015

Unrestricted access to Space low shock non-explosive actuators has been identified as an urgent action by the European Commission, the European Space Agency and the European Defence Agency. Project REACT proposal is oriented to permit the unrestricted access of Europe to the technology of high reliable non-explosive actuators based on SMA (Shape Memory Alloy) technology. The REACT (REsettable Hold-Down and Release ACTuator) device is a new Hold Down and Release Actuator (HDRA) for space applications that have been developed as an improved alternative to currently available devices. Specifically, the proposed project is focused on develop low shock resettable Hold Down and Release actuators and qualify them integrated in real space final user space applications that require this release devices, such as big structures deployment, space science payload subsystems deployment, launchers subsystems deployment and small satellites subsystems deployment. The TRL (Technology Readiness Level) expected to be obtained once the project concluded shall be 8. REACT project is aimed to optimize and evolve standard REACT devices designs recently qualified up to TRL6 in order to match the requirements of specific applications demanded by the space market and generate a competitive range of products. The product optimized for space market applications will be able to replace and improve the performance of currently available US components in different areas of application (launchers, science, telecom and Earth Observation applications). REACT project contemplates to develop new SMA material manufacturing techniques and new SMA alloys that fit the specific requirements of the final users also involved in the project. In addition, research and improve the actuator tribology will be a technical objective to be addressed during the project development. Finally it is addressed a complete qualification campaign in order to upgrade to TRL8 the REACT models.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Fast Track | Award Amount: 99.96K | Year: 2012

The aim of this project is to design a simple, accurate and affordable system to detect and locate sources of RF interference which affect commercial satellite services. A space based detector will be developed which can directly measure ground-based sources of radiation in any commercial band and the ground-based processing to localize the source of interference on Earth and inform commercial operators.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Collaborative Research & Development | Award Amount: 1.89M | Year: 2012

This collaborative project between SSTL Ltd, Astrium Ltd and Spur Electron Ltd will accelerate the technology development of an innovative S-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument. This low cost, yet extremely capable instrument is the key enabler for a SAR satellite (NovaSAR) that completely changes the economics of the radar remote sensing market and SAR satellite ownership. Once developed and proven, SSTL and Astrium aim to bring this product to market ahead of potential competitors and achieve a 1st mover position. This would place the UK at the forefront of a new and exploitable global market generating income through export sales, service provision and applications development. Economic benefit in the UK is expected from jobs in upstream space infrastructure industry and supply chain and also from the creation of business opportunities in downstream service sectors and employment in the wider economy.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: COMPET-05-2014 | Award Amount: 384.60K | Year: 2015

Getting flight heritage for innovative space technologies can be a challenge. While options exist for flying in Low Earth Orbit, few opportunities exist for flying outside the Van Allen belts, especially on the Geostationary orbit where are located the majority of commercial satellites. The PLUGIN project, or PayLoad Universal Geostationary Interface, aims at developing an open standard for hosting innovative packages as passenger payloads on-board commercial satellites. PLUGIN will propose a generic approach, including technical interface requirements and implementation schedule. PLUGIN will also present the business models for hosting such payloads on commercial spacecraft and associated contracting principles, together with a list of opportunities. Airbus Defence and Space (Formerly Astrium) is the leading European manufacturer of GEO communications satellites with 4 launchs per year to GEO orbit, and as such is in the perfect position to promote such initiative. Developing PLUGIN will benefit the whole European industry, by providing a recurring access to GEO orbit. Developing PLUGIN will also improve Airbus DS commercial offers. Airbus DS is teaming with ISIS and SSTL., 2 innovative industry leaders. The combined experiences and mindsets of the 3 companies will allow to assess the whole variety of requests for IOD/IOV in GEO and GTO orbits. The PLUGIN project will be structured around 2 groups : an Advisory Group and a Passenger Representative Panel. The Advisory Group will help the PLUGIN team to propose solutions commercially and technically acceptable by the various stakeholders of the industry. Participants will be ESA, satellite operators and insurers. The Passenger Representative Panel will focus on technical interfaces. The panel will include space hardware manufacturers from various European countries, both large companies, SMEs, and research labs. PLUGIN outcomes will be made public and available to the whole European Industry.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Small Business Research Initiative | Award Amount: 75.25K | Year: 2015

This Phase 2 study continues the development and test of new GNSS antenna technologies put forward by SSTL in the Phase 1 study. Two different prototype antenna designs were produced by SSTL applying the technique of Composite Left and Right-handed Transmission Lines (CRL-TL), often referred to as meta-materials. Using CRL-TL allows the reduction in size of antenna features below the normal 1/4 wavelength limit. One antenna developed was a multi-resonant interdigital antenna, the other a circular slotted ground-plane broadband antenna. During this Phase 2 study, the main focus will be on the development of the most promising slotted circular broadband antenna for practical applications. The design of the antenna will be refined, packaging options will be developed with a view to manufacture, 10 units will be produced and will undergo testing in collaboration with DSTL laboratories. At the end of the study, a report will be issued detailing the path to commercial exploitation. .


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Small Business Research Initiative | Award Amount: 50.00K | Year: 2015

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has a long history in advanced GNSS technology ranging from space GPS receiver design up to Galileo GIOVE mission and FOC payloads. SSTL is planning the development of a triple frequency antenna for new precise spaceborne GNSS applications, as suitable compact triple frequency antennas are not available commercially in the configuration required. Hence SSTL is proposing a novel antenna design for this competition that meets both the needs of its space requirements and also the needs of this SBRI call - i.e. small, robust, high performance, and low cost, in a configuration that also lends itself to low cost mass manufacture. An interdigital design has been adopted that allows the achievement of resonance at three frequencies within a single patch-like element. This avoids the need for stacking multiple elements, or for a standing off from a ground plane as is required for a wideband spiral. The design does not require unusually high or stable dielectric material, and can be be accommodated within 1 mm thickness (initially excluding radome). For generic application, a wideband Low Noise Amplifier is integrated with the antenna that can be operated off 3 to 5V, but this can be deselected as a manufacturing option to transform it into a passive antenna. The LNA will add 0.5 mm to the package, though this could be recessed into the mounting panel to maintain the 1 mm profile (excluding radome). Gains of 20 dB and 45 dB will be supported. This approach will allow reception of L1, L2 and L5 signals, within a suitably small package that the antenna could be incorporated into a CPRA (phased array). SSTL has anechoic facilities for tuning functional test, and has partners who are able to offer calibrated antenna measurement chamber. For subsequent phases, SSTL can manufacture and test small quantities of antennas, but would expect to licence the design to a mass product manufacturer, exclusively if required, as long as the IP for use in space applications is maintained by SSTL.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Collaborative Research & Development | Award Amount: 293.77K | Year: 2015

High concentration hydrogen peroxide (HTP) has the potential to become the propellant of choice for low cost, high performance satellite propulsion. Until now it has only been used in launch vehicles because HTPs long term stability depends on un-conventional material choices. The UK is already leading the way in developing HTP thrusters for small satellites and this project will attempt to close the remaining gaps to enable a whole system to be created. Firstly the compatibility of the required materials will be validated through testing, secondly a new valve will be developed to regulate the flow into the thruster & thirdly a new tank will be manufactured out of a novel aluminium metal matrix composite. This material allows a tank with the chemical properties of Aluminium with the strength of Titanium. Together these components will allow the qualification of an innovative new peroxide propulsion system, making the UK a world leader in green, non-toxic, high performance propulsion for small satellites.

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