Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) is to design a satellite which will be used to demonstrate innovative space technologies such as an instrument to measure the state of the sea and one to track ships from orbit.
SSTL is to receive a grant of £770,000 from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) to design core elements of TechDemoSat-1.
Funding for the novel payload technologies will come from industry and academia in the UK and, when the design phase is completed, there will be a further grant of £2,730,000 to build and test the satellite.
It could be ready to launch by the middle of next year.
David Parker of the UK Space Agency said: “By allowing new technologies to get into space more quickly, TechDemoSat-1 will give UK space businesses a competitive edge and help the sector maintain its impressive growth which has continued unabated through the current economic downturn”.
It is expected that a number of organisations will be interested in flying payloads on the satellite, including Com Dev Europe, SSTL, Selex Galileo, Qinetiq, Aero Sekur, RAL Space, Oxford University, University of Surrey, Leicester University, MSSL and the Langton Star Centre.
They will do so at their own cost.
TechDemoSat-1 is ultimately expected to test out a technology designed to destroy satellites at the end of their lives.
When TechDemoSat-1 becomes defunct, it will deploy a ‘sail’ which will divert it into the earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up.