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Surrey Satellite wins ESA backing for geostationary smallsat development

UK, 2 February 2007 – UK satellite engineering company Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has been awarded a key development contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to continue development of a Geostationary small satellite platform, extending SSTL’s expertise further beyond its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) heritage.

The €2.28 million contract award is a valuable opportunity to progress the on-going Geostationary Minisatellite Platform (GMP) work at SSTL, started under the British National Space Centre’s (BNSC) MOSAIC programme. Work done under MOSAIC enabled SSTL to develop the recent ESA GIOVE-A satellite launched in December 2005.

The decision to support SSTL’s GEO activities further was agreed, with the full support of the BNSC, at the ESA Industrial Policy Committee meeting of 29th November. The award will be made from the funds available in ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) 4 programme. ARTES 4 is one of a number of activities facilitating ESA/industry partnerships and encouraging innovative development in satellite telecommunications for commercial markets.

The new contract will facilitate significant development of SSTL’s transfer variant of the GEO minisatellite, the GMPT, which will provide a satellite compatible with launch to a highly elliptical transfer orbit prior to transferring to a near-circular Geostationary orbit, thus ensuring more flexibility in launch opportunities. Once on-station the satellite platform will be capable of supporting a 200kg, 2.5kW payload for up to a 10-year mission lifetime.

This latest success for SSTL closely follows the signing of contracts for an additional Disaster Monitoring Constellation satellite for Spanish company Deimos and a high capability LEO Earth observation satellite for Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency. Both contracts involve the provision of satellite platforms, imaging payloads, and ground segment facilities. The NIGERIASAT-2 contract also incorporates a training programme to help build Nigeria’s indigenous space capability.

The Managing Director of SSTL, Dr. Jeffrey Ward, offered the following response upon SSTL’s notification of their success: “SSTL is very excited to receive some support from ESA for the development of an affordable geostationary platform. As we have seen from the GIOVE-A mission, SSTL’s products do provide timely and effective solutions for demanding missions beyond Low Earth Orbit”.

– About SSTL
The 200-strong company with a 45 million dollar turnover was formed back in 1985 by the University of Surrey to commercialise the results of its innovative small satellite engineering research. Through the eighties and early nineties, the UK space industry focused on developing larger, more powerful satellites to support the growth of technology.

SSTL was the first professional organisation to offer low-cost small satellites and its involvement in 23 satellite missions makes it the most experienced and successful small satellite company in the world. Visit www.SSTL.co.uk for further information on the company.