NigeriaSat-2, Nigeria’s highly advanced Earth observation satellite built by SSTL, has won the 2012 Sir Arthur Clarke award for "Best Space Activity - Industry / project".
The prestigious awards, held by the British Interplanetary Society since 2005, recognise notable contributions to the UK space sector. The award, to the whole of the NigeriaSat-2 team, was presented to SSTL’s Director of Earth Observation and Science, Luis Gomes, by the Chair of UK Space, Ruy Pinto, in a ceremony at the House of Lords on Friday 26th October. The event was also hosted by Jon Culshaw, the British comedian and enthusiastic amateur astronomer.
Luis Gomes commented "I am especially pleased that the NigeriaSat-2 team has been honoured with this award because this is a new satellite platform design and also a new imager design, both of which required a huge amount of work from our team of talented and dedicated engineers. We worked closely with our customer, NASRDA, throughout the design and build of this satellite and we are all delighted with quality of the images from NigeriaSat-2."
NigeriaSat-2 was launched in 2011 for Nigeria’s space agency (NASRDA). It was cited as being “the most powerful UK-built EO satellite in orbit” providing a very high 2.5m resolution imaging service at a fraction of the build cost of conventional high resolution imaging satellites.
Used by NASRDA for natural resource management and urban planning amongst other applications, the satellite has significantly advanced Nigeria’s Earth Observation capability. NigeriaSat-2, the first of SSTL’s 300kg class satellites, is also an asset to the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC), to which it belongs. Its high resolution means that it can ‘zoom in’ on areas of interest and make out individual buildings and roads.
The satellite also has flexible 45 degree off-pointing meaning that it can acquire multiple images of the same point on Earth without having to wait for the next revisit. The satellite carries many technology improvements developed by SSTL over the course of the last 5 years such as a high performance data storage and communications system operating in X-band.
This isn’t the first time that SSTL has had success at the Sir Arthur Clarke awards. In 2008, SSTL founder and Executive chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering development of small satellites which use low-cost engineering techniques. On receiving the award, Sir Martin Sweeting noted the science fiction writer’s “2001: A space odyssey” as one of his inspirations for pursuing a career in space.