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Mon, 06 Nov 2006

UK Exports Earth Observation Satellite to Nigeria to improve African Resource Management

British satellite specialists Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) today signed a contract in Abuja for the supply of the NIGERIASAT-2 Earth observation satellite, related ground infrastructure and a training programme to further establish a national indigenous space capability in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The selection of SSTL by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) of Nigeria follows a detailed technical evaluation and due diligence undertaken by NASRDA’s procurement advisor, Telesat of Canada, confirming the UK company’s position as the world-leading supplier of advanced operational small satellites.

The new 300kg satellite, for launch in 2009, will provide Nigeria with valuable geographically referenced high-resolution satellite imaging for applications in mapping, water resources management, agricultural land use, population estimation, health hazard monitoring and disaster mitigation and management.

By signing this contract with SSTL, Nigeria takes another large step in the development of their National Space Plan, building upon the existing NIGERIASAT-1 Earth Observation microsatellite supplied by SSTL in 2003 and the NIGCOMSAT-1 communications satellite currently being built by China for launch in 2008.

Commenting on the contract with SSTL, NASRDA’s Director General, Professor Robert Boroffice, stated that “this contract is the next step in Nigeria’s long term plans to use space for the benefit of Nigeria and Africa. We are convinced that space provides a cost-effective means of addressing many of the issues facing African nations – such as mapping, water resources management, agricultural land use monitoring, population estimation, health hazard monitoring and disaster mitigation and management”.

SSTL will develop NIGERIASAT-2 based upon its new generation of high-resolution Earth observation satellites to provide affordable access to space, using the latest advanced small satellite technologies developed from the TOPSAT and Beijing-1 missions launched successfully last year.

Commenting on the contract award, SSTL’s CEO Sir Martin Sweeting noted “I am delighted that NASRDA has decided to continue its successful partnership with SSTL on such a critical operational and training programme for Nigeria. Nigeria is a very valued member of the DMC and its continued cooperation with SSTL and DMCII ensures the operational status of the international DMC is extended even further. NASRDA’s decision also confirms SSTL as the world-leading supplier of operational small satellites.”

The contract with NASRDA follows “hot on the heels” of the signature by Deimos (Spain) on 10th October 2006 on a contract with SSTL for an EO microsatellite to join the next generation of the international DMC constellation. With NIGERIASAT-2, Nigeria will also join the second generation DMC, with the satellite being fully controlled from NASRDA’s new satellite Mission Control Centre facilities in Abuja.

The DMC owes its success to a unique concept created and led by SSTL whereby each member of the DMC consortium (Algeria, China, Nigeria, Spain, Turkey, UK) owns and operates its own satellite, whilst co-operating with the other DMC members on satellite tasking and image capture to achieve a 24-hour revisit worldwide. The DMC satellites have been manufactured by SSTL and their operation in orbit is coordinated by DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii), a subsidiary of SSTL.

The NIGERIASAT-2 contract adds to an already successful year for SSTL and is expected to create up to 50 new high technology jobs in the UK. Alongside the recent contract with Deimos (Spain) and the successful launches of TOPSAT, Beijing-1 and GIOVE-A missions at the end of 2005, this contract further illustrates SSTL’s ability to manage multiple complex space missions successfully, at low cost and within short delivery timescales.

About NASRDA

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) of Nigeria is an agency under the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology whose mission is the use of home-grown capabilities for space science research, development and applications.

NASRDA is tasked with implementing the national space policy of Nigeria and in line with this have several specialised centres and dedicated programmes in place to realise this important national objective. In 2003, NASRDA launched an Earth observation satellite, NigeriaSat-1, in constellation with other countries.

NASRDA also commissioned the development of a communications satellite, NigComsat-1, with C, Ku, Ka and L bands. NigComsat-1 will provide the most optimal and cost-effective voice, data, video, Internet & application services coverage for Africa. See: www.nasrda.org

About SSTL and DMCii

Based in Guilford, England, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. is a 200-strong, £30M turnover private company formed in 1985 by the University of Surrey to commercialise the results of its innovative small satellite engineering research. The Company, majority owned by the University and with minority holdings by its staff and SpaceX (USA), has enjoyed steady growth in revenues of ~20% each year since 2000. SSTL recently acquired the SIRA Space Optics Division to enhance its in-house capability for satellite Earth observation instruments.

SSTL was the first professional organisation to offer low-cost small satellites with rapid response employing advanced terrestrial technologies. SSTL supplies the international marketplace, with customers including ESA, NASA, French DGA, USAF, US DOE, China and UK BNSC & MoD. SSTL was the prime contractor for the 5 DMC satellites thus far launched and their associated ground systems. The DMC system provides 24-hour revisit imaging for national applications, commercial users and in response to natural and man-made disasters.

In October 2005 SSTL launched the 2.5-metre resolution 120kg TOPSAT optical Earth imaging microsatellite for the UK government and a 4-metre resolution imaging satellite for the Beijing Landview Mapping Information Technology Co. Ltd. of China also operating in the DMC. In December 2005, SSTL launched the 600kg GIOVE-A for the European Space Agency, being the first satellite in the European Galileo navigation system.

SSTL is currently manufacturing the satellite platforms for the US Department of Energy's CFESat; the five-satellite commercial imaging constellation RapidEye due for launch in late 2006 and mid-2007 respectively and a new DMC satellite for Deimos (Spain) for launch in 2008.

The small EO satellites of the DMC provide daily revisit in combination with an unmatched 600km multispectral imaging swath width at 32 metre ground sample distance for frequent broad-area coverage. DMC data products are calibrated and processed to a variety of levels according to customer requirements. The latest DMC satellites (Beijing-1 and NIGERIASAT-2) provide high-resolution image data, thus expanding the market for DMCii products.

DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii) is a subsidiary formed by SSTL in October 2004 as a UK supplier of remote sensing data products and services for international Earth Observation (EO) markets. DMCii supplies both programme-on-request and archived optical satellite imagery provided by the DMC satellites. DMC data is now used in a wide variety of commercial and government applications including agriculture, forestry and environmental mapping.

In partnership with the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the other DMC member nations (Algeria, China, Nigeria, Spain and Turkey), DMCii uses the commercial exploitation of the DMC small satellite constellation to fund co-ordination of the DMC for humanitarian use in the event of major international disasters. DMCii works with the UN, the European Space Agency and the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters during disasters such as Tsunami, Fire, Flooding and Hurricanes.

About SSTL: www.sstl.co.uk

About DMCii: www.dmcii.com

Notes to editor

High resolution photography of the signing will be made available immediately after the contract signing in Nigeria on Monday morning (UK time). Other supporting DMC earth images and satellite images are available on request.

Press Contact:

Robin Wolstenholme

Ballard Communications Management (BCM)

Tel: 01306 882288

Email: r.wolstenholme (at) ballard.co.uk