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TechDemoSat-1: Payloads

TechDemoSat-1: Payloads

More than your average payload ability

The payloads on board the satellite currently make up four suites – a Maritime suite, Space Environment suite, Air and Land Monitoring suite and a Platform Technology suite.

The Maritime Suite

The Maritime Suite consists of SSTL’s Sea State Payload (SSP).  An evolution of SSTL’s SGR-RESI payload, the SSP uses an enhanced GPS receiver to monitor reflected signals to determine ocean roughness. By utilising components from Astrium’s Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to operate as a coarse altimeter, the SSP pulses radio waves onto the ocean. The echo waveforms that return give an independent measurement of the sea state and the information gathered can then be applied to meteorology, oceanography, climate science and ice monitoring. Astrium Portsmouth will also contribute an antenna design using the same technology as the SAR antenna but on a smaller scale.

The Space Environment Suite

The Space Environment Suite consists of the MuREM, ChaPS, HMRM and the LUCID payloads. MuREM, supplied by the Surrey Space Centre, provides a flexible, miniature radiation environment and effects monitor which can be flown as a standard radiation alarm and diagnostic package, enhancing the security of future space missions.

The Charged Particle Spectrometer (ChaPS), supplied by the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), is the first prototype of a new class of compact instruments to detect electrons and ions, building on 40 years of experience at UCL-MSSL. ChaPS will demonstrate the principles on-orbit and open the way to use the techniques on other missions where mass and power are at a premium, for example spaceweather constellations. ChaPS will operate in three modes, to measure electrons in the auroral regions, electrons and ions in other regions and also to measure the spacecraft potential

The Highly Miniaturised Radiation Monitor (HMRM), supplied by Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Imperial College, is a lightweight, ultra compact radiation monitor designed to measure total radiation dose, particle flux rate and identify particle species (electrons, protons and ions). The instrument is designed to provide housekeeping data on the radiation environment to spacecraft operators to correlate the performance of spacecraft subsystems, raise alerts during periods of enhanced radiation flux and to assist in diagnosing spacecraft system malfunctions.

TechDemoSat-1 also reaches beyond the UK space industry to incorporate the UK scientists of the future. As the winning entry of a UK space competition developed by Sixth form college, The Langston Star Centre, the LUCID (Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector) payload will also fly on the space environment suite. LUCID allows characterisation of the energy, type, intensity and directionality of high energy particles. The device makes use of COTS sensor technology developed at CERN (The European Organisation for Nuclear Research) using Timepix chips from the Medipix Collaboration. Part of a family of photon counting pixel detectors, Timepix allows for recording time information regarding when events occur relative to when the shutter opens. The data obtained from LUCID is of interest to NASA in terms of radiation monitoring but also provides inspiration to the next generation of physicists and engineers by giving school students the opportunity to work alongside research scientists and take part in authentic research.

You can find out more about the LUCID payload in this Blog.

Air and Land Monitoring Suite

Currently, the Air and Land Monitoring Suite consists of a single Compact Modular Sounder (CMS) system being provided by Oxford University’s Planetary Group and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The CMS is a modular infrared remote sensing radiometer unit, designed to easily mix and match sub-systems and fly multiple versions on multiple platforms at low cost by tailoring it to specific customer requirements once flight heritage has been proven.

Platform Technology Suite

While the companies and academia organisations flying payloads on the other three suites will make full use of the three year mission on board TDS-1 to prove their technology, Cranfield University must wait until the end of life decommissioning activity to prove theirs. One of two technologies within the Platform Technology Suite, Cranfield is working on a ‘de-orbit sail’ that will safely bring TDS-1 back into earth’s atmosphere to burn up at the end of the mission. The other payload in the Platform Technology Suite is the CubeSAT ACS payload, supplied by SSBV, which is a complete 3-axes attitude determination and control subsystem designed for Cubesats.

You can find out more about the de-orbit sail in this Blog.

Satellite Data


UK Gov: Technology Strategy Board

Science/Technology Demonstrator



Launch Data

Launch Date:
8 July 2014 16:58:28 BST

Launch Site:
Baikonur, Kazakhstan

Soyuz-2 with Fregat upper stage

~635km sun-synchronous, LTDN 9.00am