ABOUT US

SURREY SATELLITE TECHNOLOGY LTD (SSTL)

WE HAVE BEEN BUILDING WORLD-LEADING SMALL SATELLITES FOR 40+ YEARS

 

OUR VISION STATEMENT

"SSTL pioneers audacious new satellite technologies, products and services and shares its know-how to enable advancement in Space."

 

 



The SSTL story is a showcase of British ingenuity, ambition and engineering expertise

In the mid-1970s space was considered to be the preserve of a few super-powers and restricted to the most affluent of nations since it was extremely complex and expensive to access. The satellites launched at that time used components specially manufactured and tested to perform reliably in the harsh space environment but with only limited functions that could not be reprogrammed once in orbit.

In the late 1970s, a group of researchers working at the University of Surrey, led by a young Martin Sweeting, decided to experiment by creating a satellite using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. The idea was bold and audacious and the results were surprising.

That first satellite, UoSat-1, was built in a small university lab in a cleanroom fabricated from B&Q - and with printed circuit boards designed by hand on a kitchen table. Launched in 1981 with the help of NASA UoSAT-1 was the first modern re-programmable small satellite and was a great success, outliving its planned three year life by more than five years. Most importantly, the team showed that relatively small and inexpensive "micro" satellites could be built rapidly to perform successful and sophisticated missions.

In 1985 Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd was formed as a spin-out company to transfer the results of research into a commercial enterprise. The Company grew steadily and has worked with a wide range of international customers and partners, building and launching ~70 sateliltes for 22 countries over the following three decades.

In 2009 Airbus bought the majority shareholding from the University of Surrey, allowing SSTL to fulfil its growth potential. SSTL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus.

SSTL pioneered the design, build, test and operation of small satellites and has been a world leader in the field for over 40 years.

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SSTL Economic Impact Infographic

30 YEARS OF FIRSTS

First modern microsatellite with in-orbit re-programmable computers, UoSAT-1 (1981)

First modern microsatellite with in-orbit re-programmable computers, UoSAT-1 (1981)

1981
First modern digital store-and-forward communications payload, UoSAT-2 (1984)

First modern digital store-and-forward communications payload, UoSAT-2 (1984)

1984
First modular 50kg microsatellite design, now widely emulated, UoSAT-3 and UoSAT-4 (1990)

First modular 50kg microsatellite design, now widely emulated, UoSAT-3 and UoSAT-4 (1990)

1990
First satellites for the nations of South Korea (1992), Portugal (1993), Chile (1995), Algeria (2002

First satellites for the nations of South Korea (1992), Portugal (1993), Chile (1995), Algeria (2002

1992
First microsatellite using GPS for on-board orbit determination, PoSAT (1993)

First microsatellite using GPS for on-board orbit determination, PoSAT (1993)

1993
First recorded and verified unintentional space debris impact by two man-made objects in Earth orbit

First recorded and verified unintentional space debris impact by two man-made objects in Earth orbit

1996
First microsatellite to take multispectral Earth images, TMSat (1998)

First microsatellite to take multispectral Earth images, TMSat (1998)

1998
First satellite to use Nitrous Oxide as a propellant, UoSAT-12 (1999)

First satellite to use Nitrous Oxide as a propellant, UoSAT-12 (1999)

1999
First commercial organisation to launch on the Kosmotras DNEPR launch vehicle, UoSAT-12 (1999)

First commercial organisation to launch on the Kosmotras DNEPR launch vehicle, UoSAT-12 (1999)

1999
The first successful use of GPS on board a nanosatellite for orbit manoeuvring, SNAP-1 (2000)

The first successful use of GPS on board a nanosatellite for orbit manoeuvring, SNAP-1 (2000)

2000
First use of butane as a space propellant, SNAP-1 (2000)

First use of butane as a space propellant, SNAP-1 (2000)

2000
First use of propulsion on a nanosatellite, SNAP-1 (2000)

First use of propulsion on a nanosatellite, SNAP-1 (2000)

2000
First nanosatellite to demonstrate in-orbit inspection of another spacecraft and orbit autonomous at

First nanosatellite to demonstrate in-orbit inspection of another spacecraft and orbit autonomous at

2000
UK’s first nanosatellite in orbit, SNAP-1 (2000)

UK’s first nanosatellite in orbit, SNAP-1 (2000)

2000
First demonstration of autonomous orbit control, using on-board GPS and propulsion system to maintai

First demonstration of autonomous orbit control, using on-board GPS and propulsion system to maintai

2000
First satellite to have a web address in orbit, UoSAT-12 (2001)

First satellite to have a web address in orbit, UoSAT-12 (2001)

2001
First Knighthood for services to microsatellite engineering, Sir Martin Sweeting (2001)

First Knighthood for services to microsatellite engineering, Sir Martin Sweeting (2001)

2001
First internationally co-ordinated disaster monitoring constellation, the Disaster Monitoring Conste

First internationally co-ordinated disaster monitoring constellation, the Disaster Monitoring Conste

2002
First satellite to take 32m resolution multispectral images at 600km swath width, AlSAT-1 (2002)

First satellite to take 32m resolution multispectral images at 600km swath width, AlSAT-1 (2002)

2002
First demonstration of a water propulsion system, UK-DMC-1 (2003)

First demonstration of a water propulsion system, UK-DMC-1 (2003)

2003
First use of Interplanetary Internet v6 on board a satellite in orbit, UK-DMC-1 (2003)

First use of Interplanetary Internet v6 on board a satellite in orbit, UK-DMC-1 (2003)

2003
First small satellite to use a Control Moment Gyro, BILSAT-1 (2003)

First small satellite to use a Control Moment Gyro, BILSAT-1 (2003)

2003
First satellite image of New Orleans coastline, following Hurricane Katrina, NigeriaSat-1 image (200

First satellite image of New Orleans coastline, following Hurricane Katrina, NigeriaSat-1 image (200

2005
First Galileo positioning satellite for Europe, GIOVE-A (2005)

First Galileo positioning satellite for Europe, GIOVE-A (2005)

2005
First low-cost minisatellite constellation for commercial Earth Observation– RapidEye (2008)

First low-cost minisatellite constellation for commercial Earth Observation– RapidEye (2008)

2008
First GPS position fix at 23,300km altitude, using GPS signals outside a GPS constellation – GPS exp

First GPS position fix at 23,300km altitude, using GPS signals outside a GPS constellation – GPS exp

2012
UK’s first cubesat in orbit, STRaND-1 (2013)

UK’s first cubesat in orbit, STRaND-1 (2013)

2013
First momentum wheel to guide a lander to land on a comet’s surface, Rosetta/Philae mission (2014)

First momentum wheel to guide a lander to land on a comet’s surface, Rosetta/Philae mission (2014)

2014
First use of reflected GPS signals to measure sea-state and generate Delay Doppler Maps on board the

First use of reflected GPS signals to measure sea-state and generate Delay Doppler Maps on board the

2014
First in-orbit demonstration of space debris capture, RemoveDEBRIS (2018)

First in-orbit demonstration of space debris capture, RemoveDEBRIS (2018)

2018
First use of Hook-and-Loop Hold Down and Release Mechanism, CARBONITE-2 (2018)

First use of Hook-and-Loop Hold Down and Release Mechanism, CARBONITE-2 (2018)

2018
First demonstration of 5G connectivity on a LEO spacecraft, LEO Vantage Phase 1, 2019

First demonstration of 5G connectivity on a LEO spacecraft, LEO Vantage Phase 1, 2019

2019

CELEBRATING OUR SUCCESS

  • 1998:
    Queen's Award for Technological Achievement

  • 2000:
    SSPI Industry Innovators Award

  • 2004:
    World Technology Network Corporate Award for Space

  • 2005:
    The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation

  • 2006:
    The Royal Institute of Navigation Harold Spencer Jones Gold Meal
    &
    The Times Higher Award for Outstanding Contributions to Innovation and Technology

  • 2007:
    Royal Aeronautical Society Silver Medal for TopSat

  • 2008:
    ESA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Galileo programme
  • 2009:
    Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For
  • 2012:
    AIAA Space Systems award for the Disaster Monitoring Constellation
    &
    Sir Arthur Clarke Project Team Award – NigeriaSat-2
  • 2013:
    IET Award for Innovation - NovaSAR-1
  • 2014:
    Made in the UK Aerospace and Defence Award
  • 2016:
    Sir Arthur Clarke Project Team Award - Galileo navigation payloads


  • 2017:
    Royal Aeronautical Society Silver Medallist - Martin Unwin, GNSS Principal Engineer
  • 2018:
    British Engineering Excellence Awards - Brent Brakeboer, Young Design Engineer of the Year
    &
    International Board of Trade Award for outstanding contribution to international trade & investment
  • 2019:
    Sir Arthur Clarke Project Team Award - the RemoveDEBRIS consortium
    &
    Aviation Week Network Laureate Award for Space Technology and Innovation - RemoveDEBRIS
    &
    Royal Aeronautical Society Team Bronze Award - NovaSAR-1


SIR MARTIN SWEETING

  • 1995:
    OBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List
  • 1995:
    Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal
  • 1996:
    Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering
  • 2000:
    Election to the International Academy of Astronautics
  • 2000:
    Fellowship of the Royal Society
  • 2001:
    Knighthood in the Queen’s New Year Honours for services to microsatellite engineering
  • 2001:
    World technology award for space


  • 2002:
    Frank J Molina Astronautics Medal
  • 2004:
    AAS Industrial Leadership Award
  • 2006:
    Top Ten Britons Who Shaped Our World, the Independent
  • 2008:
    Sir Arthur Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2010:
    The Institute of Engineering and Technology Faraday Medal
  • 2010:
    The European Electronics Industry Elektra Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2012:
    International Von Karmen Wings Award from Caltech/JPL
  • 2012:
    Guildford Roll of Honour
  • 2014:
    Chinese Academy of Sciences/COSPAR Jeoujang Jaw Award
  • 2015:
    Fellowship of the Royal Aeronautical Society
  • 2017:
    Debrett's list of 500 most influential Britons
  • 2017:
    IAF Distinguished Service Award
  • 2018:
    Honorary Fellowship of the British Interplanetary Society
  • 2022:
    Geospatial World Forum Hall of Fame Award

SSTL IS A MEMBER OF, OR IS REPRESENTED ON, A NUMBER OF ASSOCIATIONS INCLUDING

Pioneers of the SmallSats Revolution