Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has signed a contract with Honeywell to supply the VESTA satellite platform, a technology demonstration mission that will test a new two-way VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) payload for the exactEarth advanced maritime satellite constellation. The contract was signed as part of an MOU between Honeywell Aerospace and the UK Space Agency.
John Paffett, SSTL’s Director of Telecommunications, commented “The SSTL nanosatellite range provides flexible and highly capable payload accommodation, engineered with SSTL’s unrivalled class-leading reliability and I am delighted that VESTA will be first nanosatellite to be manufactured in our new NanoLab here in Guildford.”
Leveraging SSTL’s extensive track record and proven heritage in the provision of high quality, cost effective small satellite platforms, VESTA is a new configuration of the SSTL-12 satellite platform, a product in SSTL’s scalable LEO platform range covering 3kg to 1000kg. The SSTL-12 provides a flexible mission solution offering more power, mass and payload capability than many other current offerings in this class and is ideally suited for missions of between 3kg and 25kg.
VESTA is being manufactured in SSTL’s new NanoLab at the Company’s Guildford facility under a rapid-build schedule to meet a 2017 launch date. The VESTA platform will have 3-axis pointing capability, an SEU tolerant on-board computer, VxWorks operating system and an S-Band transmitter and receiver. The design is compatible with a range of launch deployment systems for injection into orbit by Soyuz, Antares, Dnepr, Falcon-9, Atlas, Delta and Vega rockets.
In 2012, SSTL supplied the platform for exactView-1, the highest detection performance AIS satellite currently in orbit. exactEarth is pioneering space-based maritime information services which include the highest performing, most widely accepted satellite AIS system increasing the range of vessel detection and providing real time monitoring of vessels throughout the World’s oceans.
VESTA is a flagship project of the National Space Technology Programme , funded by the UK Space Agency and managed by the Centre for EO Instrumentation and Space Technology (CEOI-ST).
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd (GES) have today announced a new partnership to go beyond Earth’s orbit and provide a new model of low cost, high value, space exploration and science. With the ultimate aim of supporting a Solar System network, the SSTL-GES Lunar Pathfinder mission and its successors will provide a system to transport payloads to the Moon together with communications links for these payloads and any other deployed assets back to the Earth.
The mission will support the international development and exploration of space, and the first mission will also provide a new opportunity to transport commercial payloads to lunar orbit. A call for flight opportunities for small lunar missions and payloads is now open and is hosted on a dedicated website www.goonhilly.org/lunar. The call targets the global space community from established space agencies, developing space nations, commercial entities, public and private organisations and universities.
Sir Martin Sweeting, SSTL’s Executive Chairman, summed up the significance of the mission by commenting “Affordable transport of space assets to lunar orbit and communications of these assets with Earth are a common barrier to the international development and exploration of our local solar system - the Lunar Pathfinder missions will provide the low cost support infrastructure that allows customers to focus on the science and business aspects of their missions.”
The Lunar Pathfinder mission is designed to be inter-operable with other systems and will use international protocols for communications.
The SSTL-GES Lunar Pathfinder team are already working on the initial baseline design, with technical assistance from the European Space Agency (ESA). SSTL are designing a series of lunar communication satellites and will be building on their heritage of small satellite platforms in Low Earth orbit and Medium Earth orbit to go beyond Earth’s orbit for the first time. GES are upgrading one of the famous antennas at their Goonhilly site in Cornwall, UK, into a deep space ground asset, which will be the first element in a commercial deep space network. In addition, GES will provide a dedicated mission operations centre situated in Cornwall.
The SSTL-GES Lunar Communications Partnership has been selected by ESA for a pilot phase activity as part of their broader initiative to foster Commercial Partnerships for Space Exploration.
“Commercial partnerships play an important role in the exciting ESA vision for space exploration, said David Parker, ESA Director for Human and Robotic Exploration. “ESA stimulates private sector investment and engagement in space exploration through supporting selected commercial initiatives, as business partner and potential future customer. This approach is expected to result in innovative and inspiring approaches for delivering the ESA strategy for space exploration, benefiting both, the private sector partner and the broader ESA stakeholder community.”
Telesat, a leading global satellite operator, has procured two prototype Ka-band satellites for operation in low earth orbit (LEO) that Telesat anticipates launching mid-to-late 2017 as part of a test and validation phase for an advanced, global LEO satellite constellation that Telesat is developing. Through an authorization issued by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), Telesat has secured priority rights to certain Ka-band spectrum in non-geostationary orbits (NGSO) at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to operate such a constellation.
Telesat has contracted with Space Systems Loral (SSL) of Palo Alto, California, and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), an independent British company within the Airbus Defence & Space group, for the procurement of the prototypes. By drawing on the advanced technologies and expertise of these leading manufacturers, Telesat will test and demonstrate two distinct spacecraft in LEO, a key step in optimizing the design and performance of Telesat’s contemplated LEO constellation.
“Telesat is proud of our long and distinguished record of satellite innovation, including technical breakthroughs that have enabled our customers to realize significant gains in broadband performance,” said Dave Wendling, Telesat’s Chief Technical Officer. “Our Anik F2 satellite was the first to provide Ka-band high throughput satellite capacity. We are now developing a global constellation of advanced, high throughput LEO satellites operating in Ka-band, which we believe will offer a number of important advantages for the global delivery of high capacity broadband services. The Telesat team looks forward to working with SSL and SSTL to validate and demonstrate key parameters of our contemplated next generation satellite network as well as with other technology partners as we move forward with our plans.”
A British consortium led by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has been awarded a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to co-fund the development of a novel High Test Peroxide (HTP) propulsion system.
The new HTP propulsion system is being designed as an environmentally friendly and cost effective “green” replacement for hydrazine propellant systems, which are currently commonly used in small satellites. Hydrazine is on the REACH* sunset list of chemicals and there is a drive from the space industry to develop alternative high performance, low cost, propulsion systems. SSTL has identified HTP as an environmentally friendly monopropellant with the potential for providing the high performance required for future small satellite missions, and has teamed with partners on a project to bring the new HTP propulsion system design to flight-ready status.
SSTL’s propulsion engineers have designed a prototype HTP propulsion system, and will work together with the consortium partners to resolve the remaining design and materials challenges to achieve a flight-ready concept by the end of 2016. The project will require a comprehensive validation of material compatibility that will be undertaken by European Astrotech (EAL) to demonstrate for future customers the long term suitability of HTP with all system components. A new valve will be developed by SSTL, based on a novel patent from The Open University, and a high-strength Aluminium propellant tank will be developed by TISICS Ltd using fibre reinforced aluminium composite (Al-MMC). Finally the whole system will be built as a ground demonstration unit by SSTL and tested with EAL.