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Sir Martin Sweeting - A leader in microsatellites

The Sunday Times 500 Most Influential Britons
SSTL’s Executive Chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting, has been recognised as one of Britain’s most influential engineers and listed amongst the 500 most influential citizens, according to a list just published by The Sunday Times.

Sir Martin Sweeting with the DMC3/TripleSat Constellation, SSTL May 2015. Click to enlarge.

It comes as no surprise to staff here.  We’re justifiably proud to be led by a pioneer in the development of small satellites and, thirty years on from where it all started, Sir Martin maintains a very active role in the Company, and at the University of Surrey where he is also Chair of the Surrey Space Centre.  An active role includes a great deal of travelling to talk with the many and varied members of the space community around the world, but he is equally at home talking to engineers here about new innovations and technologies as he is advising Heads of State about setting up a new national space programmes.  

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

Sir Martin’s journey started with a BSc in electronics and PhD in radio engineering from the University of Surrey where he led a small research team to build two small experimental microsatellites launched in 1981 & 1984.  Having proved that small satellites could provide a useful service at a low cost, he went on to pioneer rapid-response, low-cost and highly-capable small satellites utilising modern consumer electronics to ‘change the economics of space’ and has established the United Kingdom at the forefront of this field.

In 1985 Sir Martin formed SSTL as a spin-off University company and in the years that followed he guided the Company as it launched 47 small satellites and grew to employing 500 staff.   Sir Martin wasn’t just an innovator with space hardware – he also pioneered satellite know-how transfer and training programmes which have gone on to become one of the hallmarks of SSTL’s success and resulted in collaborative partnerships with 18 countries and have allowed emerging space nations in particular access to Space. 

SSTL’s first know-how transfer and training programme was for South Korea, a collaborative programme that combined hands-on training in the build of KITSAT-1 (launched in 1992) with studies at the University of Surrey.  South Korea now has their own commercial satellite manufacturer, SaTRECi.

In 2002 Sir Martin was appointed OBE and knighted by HM The Queen.  He has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.  In 2012 he received the prestigious von Karman Wings Award from CalTech/JPL and in 2014 he received the Chinese Academy of Sciences/COSPAR Jeoujang Jaw Award recognising his contribution to international space development.

Sir Martin is also a member of the UK Space Agency Leadership Council. 

However, at SSTL Martin is a member of our team and someone that any one of us can easily strike up a conversation with as we wrestle with the coffee machine. 

Sir Martin is joined on the list by other eminent figures in the field of Engineering and Technology:

Helen Atkinson, head of engineering, University of Leicester, is an expert in metals
Baroness Brown, vice-chancellor, Aston University, advises on climate
Ian Callum, design director, Jaguar, where sales continue to rise, especially in the USA
Andy Cowell, managing director, Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, which produces the best engines in F1 racing
Dame Ann Dowling, president, Royal Academy of Engineering, the first woman in the post
Sir James Dyson, founder, Dyson, the ground-breaking vacuum cleaner. 
Warren East, chief executive, Rolls-Royce, the leading manufacturer of passenger jet engines.
Georg Ell, director, Tesla Motors, represents Elon Musk's electric car in the UK and Ireland
Paul Feldman, chief executive, Jisc, champions digital technology in education and research
Dame Wendy Hall, professor of computer science, University of Southampton, is a leading light in the development of the Web
Demis Hassabis, founder, Deep Mind Technologies, is an artificial intellgence expert
Dame Sue Ion, government energy advisor, is the UK's foremost nuclear engineer
Patrick Kniveton, head of engineering skills, Rolls-Royce, spokesperson for the sector
Liam Maxwell, government chief technology officer, drives innovation in public services
Sir Richard Olver, energy expert, ran BAE Systems and advises the government
Sir David Payne, professor of photonics, Southampton University, a fibre-optics expert
Nick Rogers, engineering director, Jaguar Land Rover, oversaw the new Range Rovers
Colin Tyler, consultant, OC&C, advises on technology, media and telecommunications
Andrew Wolstenholme, chief executive, Crossrail, Europe's biggest infrastructure project.






02 February 20160 Comments1 Comment

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