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SSTL to develop low cost Moon satellite for NASA

Last Monday at the 21st AIAA / USU Conference on Small Satellites , SSTL announced that they have been awarded a contract for the study phase of a potential joint US-UK lunar orbiter mission to be called Magnolia. This first phase of the contract will run for 9-months, resulting in a preliminary design. The contract also includes a package of training from SSTL and the University of Surrey, that will share the know-how accrued by SSTL over the last 25 years with Mississippi State University (MSU) and NASA Stennis Space Center to lower the cost of future missions to the Moon. MSU’s David Shaw stated:
"MSU is committed to developing a small satellite capability in Mississippi and believes that SSTL is the best partner with whom to achieve that aim". SSTL’s founder and Group Executive Chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting, added: "We are delighted to be working with our US partners on this programme and look forward to the exciting possibility of a joint US-UK lunar mission. SSTL is committed to driving down the cost of space missions in Earth orbit and beyond."
A proposed Magnolia design
This isn't the first time SSTL have worked on lunar missions. Last year, SSTL performed a lunar exploration design study for the UK government’s Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (now subsumed into the newly created Science & Technology Facilities Council). The study was supported by a group of UK scientists and showed the feasibility of a pair of low cost missions known as MoonLITE and MoonRaker. In the past, SSTL has developed equipment for interplanetary missions such as the Rosetta comet chaser and recently delivered a payload processor for a US radar to fly onboard the 2008 Indian lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1. Looking further into space, SSTL has performed a European Space Agency feasibility study for a low cost mission to Venus and has studied potential missions to near-Earth asteroids and Earth re-entry for the future return of samples from Mars. Magnolia marks SSTL’s next step beyond low Earth Orbit. The contract follows a UK-US cooperation agreement on lunar exploration activities. The next phase of the Magnolia mission is planned to start in 2008 and could lead to the launch of the mission in 2010.





24 August 20070 Comments1 Comment

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