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Mon, 17 Nov 2008

SSTL payload computer will help Chandrayaan-1 search the moon for ice

An on-board computer (OBC) specially built by British small satellite manufacturer SSTL will help the Indian lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 search for water by controlling the U.S Navy’s Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload.

The Mini-SAR payload will detect water-ice in areas of permanent shadow around the lunar poles to a depth of a few metres. It can optimally distinguish water-ice from the dry lunar surface.

The OBC was successfully delivered to BAE Systems as part of a US Navy contract in 2007. The OBC695B is a radiation-hard computer specially designed for robust operation in a lunar orbit. It is based on the OBC used by the Galileo test satellite, GIOVE-A which has been operating successfully in the very environmentally demanding Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) since its launch in December 2005.

SSTL’s lunar expert, Andy Phipps commented on the achievement, “This marks SSTL’s first system to be flown into lunar orbit and paves the way for more adventurous opportunities in the next few years, using lunar orbiters and subsystems in planetary space.”

About SSTL

SSTL develops innovative technologies to change the economics of space, delivering cost effective satellite missions within rapid timescales. The Company is a world leader in the design, manufacture and operation of high performance small satellites with experience gained over more than 25 years and 32 satellites launched.

SSTL employs 300 staff working on LEO, MEO, GEO and interplanetary missions, turnkey satellite platforms and space-proven satellite subsystems and optical systems. The Company also provides training and development programmes and consultancy services, and performs studies for ESA, NASA and commercial customers related to platform design, mission analysis and planning.

Based in Guildford, UK, SSTL is currently owned by the University of Surrey (85%), SSTL staff (5%), and SpaceX of the USA (10%).

Notes to editor:

This press release can be downloaded from the SSTL online press room in Word and pdf format:

SSTL Contact:

Audrey Nice, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited

Tel: +44 (0)1483 804200 Email:

Press Contact:

Robin Wolstenholme, Ballard Communications Management (BCM)

Tel: +44 (0)1306 882288 Email: