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TechDemoSat-1: The Mission

TechDemoSat-1: The Mission

UK industry and academia are working together with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) on a new innovative satellite that will trialUK space technologies and hopefully win substantial International business for the companies collaborating on the project.


TechDemoSat-1 is a satellite platform, derived from heritage technology, which will function as an ‘in-orbit test facility’ for innovative UK payloads and software.


The project is part-funded through the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).  The satellite is based on the SSTL 150 platform developed for the Rapid Eye mission (built under contract to MacDonald Dettwiler Associates), however modifications and upgrades are being made to the platform design to accommodate the payloads.


What’s special about it?


At around one meter cubed (roughly the size of a refrigerator or a dishwasher) and a surprisingly light mass of around 150kg, TechDemoSat (TDS-1) will carry no less than eight payloads plus a mixture of heritage and new product development systems from SSTL.  Among the new systems being considered to fly on the satellite is an enhanced on board computer giving greater ability to conduct software experiments remotely, a new battery charge regulator and newly qualified cell types on two of the solar panels.


The propulsion system will see a smaller tank size trialled with a new high performance resistojet thruster along with new sun sensors in the Altitude and Orbital Control System (AOCS) adding increased accuracy to the previous sensors used. The total amount of technology on board has thus led the internal communication system to be operated on an upgraded CANbus* ensuring noise immunity, and minimal contention between nodes.


*CANbus is standard protocol which includes not only the physical level (voltage levels and pin connections) but also defines a software driver level protocol. This gives a bus which can be connected to all modules on the spacecraft allowing decisions on module priority.

A large mission for a small satellite, the successful delivery and ultimate decommissioning of TechDemoSat-1 will enable UK industry and academia to qualify onboard payloads and UK satellite software, thereby overcoming the problem of a lack of in orbit flight heritage that often becomes a major barrier to commercial success in the space industry.

You can find out even more about this mission in these Blogs:

LUCID: a novel cosmic ray detector built by students

The de-orbit sail that will bring TechDemoSat-1 out of orbit

TechDemoSat-1 to fly new subsystem designs

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