Dr Matt Perkins, CEO of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), hosted a visit by Business Secretary Vince Cable to the Company’s facilities in Guildford on Friday 31st October.
During his visit, the Business Secretary was briefed by Matt Goodman from the UK Space Agency about recent activations of the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters. The International Charter aims to deliver a unified system to provide space data free of charge to those affected by disasters. Under the Charter, image data from Earth observation satellites is pooled so that up-to-date maps and assessments of conditions on the ground can be made available to relief agencies.
An image of Sierra Leone, taken by one of SSTL’s satellites, UK-DMC2, has recently been provided to the Charter for the Ebola activation, the first time it has been activated for a medical emergency. The Charter was also recently activated by the UK when Hurricane Gonzalo struck Bermuda.
Vince Cable, said: "Satellites aren't simply about mobile phone reception or avoiding the traffic on the M4. They play an important role in every aspect of the modern world like monitoring weather patterns and helping to organise the response to pandemics.”
"This is a powerful example of the versatility of the UK space industry, which is one of our big science and innovation successes. I am extremely pleased that British satellites are playing their part in tackling Ebola."
UK-DMC2 is one of the satellites operating in the Disaster Monitoring Constellation which provides free daily images for humanitarian use in the event of major international disasters, in response to activations by the International Charter: Space & Major Disasters.
Dr Matt Perkins, SSTL’s CEO, said “SSTL conceived the Disaster Monitoring Constellation more than 10 years ago, and it is a powerful humanitarian asset, that has provided countless images to disaster relief agencies through the International Charter.”
The Secretary of State was taken on a tour of SSTL’s suite of cleanrooms and was particularly interested to see work progressing on the first NovaSAR radar satellite, which is part-funded by the UK government.
NovaSAR is capable of imaging through cloud and at night using Synthetic Aperture Radar, and will be particularly useful for disaster monitoring, forestry, agriculture and maritime space data applications.
SSTL’s production pipeline is exceptionally busy and in addition to NovaSAR, there are currently more than 20 satellites being assembled at SSTL for a range of global customers, as well as 22 payloads for the Europe’s Galileo navigation constellation.
Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is the world's leading small satellite company, delivering operational space missions for a range of applications including Earth observation, science and communications. The Company designs, manufactures and operates high performance satellites and ground systems for a fraction of the price normally associated with space missions, with over 500 staff working on turnkey satellite platforms, space-proven satellite subsystems and optical instruments.
Since 1981, SSTL has built and launched 43 satellites – as well as providing training and development programmes, consultancy services, and mission studies for ESA, NASA , international governments and commercial customers, with an innovative approach that is changing the economics of space.
Headquartered in Guildford, UK, SSTL is part of the Airbus Group. www.sstl.co.uk