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Space Blog

SSTL showcases innovation at the IAC

Next week SSTL is travelling to Naples for the 63rd annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC). Held every year, the IAC is organised by the International Aeronautical Foundation (IAF) to bring political, industrial and scientific representatives from throughout the world together to shape the future direction of space. The IAC is a regular fixture in the SSTL calendar, and this year we will be presenting several papers on our latest projects and technological developments. Shaun Kenyon is presenting a paper "˜STRaND-2: Kinecting Two Cubesats in Flight’ which discusses SSTL’s collaboration with the University of Surrey using Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect to dock low-cost nanosatellites, turning them into "space building blocks". These modular "building blocks" could be stacked together and reconfigured to build larger modular spacecraft, or to extend mission lifetimes by "˜snapping on’ to spacecraft to provide backup power, propulsion or additional on-board computing capability. Alex da Silva Curiel is presenting a paper "˜Changing the radar paradigm - the NovaSAR constellation’ which will discuss the adaptation of new amplifier technologies and collaboration with Astrium to offer Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capabilities within the cost envelope of an optical remote sensing mission. This very practical technological leap will make radar data, which is currently prohibitively expensive for many civilian applications, more readily accessible for forest monitoring, agriculture, land cover classification, disaster monitoring and maritime applications. SSTL’s team at the Congress are also promoting Earthmapper, a new Earth observation platform with a large 600km field of view, 22 metre resolution imager which SSTL has combined with improved data downlink rates, on-board data storage and compression, and improved power generation. One Earthmapper can deliver a complete image of the world’s landmass every five days; put three Earthmappers in a constellation, and you get a daily global landmass image. It’s an unprecedented amount of high-quality data at a low price which will rapidly build up into an image data archive. Such frequency of data is particularly useful for change detection in applications such as mapping, and monitoring agriculture, water quality and planning disaster relief.
SSTL’s new technical facility, The Kepler Building, has now been in operation for a year and in manufacture and test currently are the navigation payloads for Galileo, three SSTL 300-S1 satellites for the DMC3 constellation, TechDemoSat-1, and MRES for Kazakhstan - but there’s still plenty of capacity in the 3,700sqm building. To match the growth in demand for our expertise we have employed over 100 new staff during the last year, bringing our staff numbers up to 500. But there’s more to building constellations on time and to budget than man-months and lab space. Philip Davies will share SSTL’s proficient production processes in the papers "˜Efficient production engineering for the manufacture of Galileo payloads’ and "˜Efficient Production Engineering of Small Satellite Constellations’. We hope you enjoy the IAC as much as we will, and we look forward to sharing our experience at this year’s conference. You can find a full list of the papers we are presenting on our website. If you’re also heading off to Naples, be sure to visit us on Stand 53, to discuss any of our products or new technologies.





27 September 20120 Comments1 Comment

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