Case study

Goonhilly Earth Station joins the satellite revolution

Suppport from UKTI helped Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) win an important new contract during a space industry trade mission to Los Angeles.

satellite dish

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) organised a programme of meetings and networking events at organisations including NASA Ames, Jet Propulsion Labs and Lockheed Martin. It also co-ordinated internal flights and bus travel within the USA, as well as match-funding the company’s travel expenses and providing a bursary for its hotel costs.

It was at a UKTI run event hosted by the SETI Institute that GES met San Francisco satellite entrepreneurs Planet Labs. Planet Labs was looking for a location for a new antenna it needed to build to communicate with and co-ordinate its fleet of Dove satellites. These small imaging satellites circle the Earth in a low orbit around 16 times a day, providing constantly refreshed information about the Earth’s surface. This meeting led to the company signing a contract with Planet Labs to design and host the new antenna.

In 2010 the UK had around 6% of the world’s space market turnover and it plans to increase this to 10% by 2030, generating around £30 billion a year.

Want to find out how UKTI can help you in this market? Arrange a face to face meeting with an International Trade Adviser.

Ian Jones, one of the founders of GES said:

UKTI saw the link between us and Planet Labs and brought us together

Our current satellite images of Earth are updated every few years but Planet Labs is set to revolutionise this by vastly increasing the update rate. This information could help farms, fisheries and forestry to note changes in the environment and to make plans to deal with them. It’ll also be used by urban planners, traffic control agencies and humanitarian organisations.

Looking forward

GES Ltd hopes to become involved in South Africa’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope. When operational, SKA will have 10 times the power of the entire Internet. The company also plans to join the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN) telescope run by Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, which may also join SKA and is also building new antennas for Inmarsat and Eutelsat.

Ian said:

The future is incredibly exciting. The Doves are game-changing and we’ll be seeing new industries and new ways of using data developing as a result. Even better we’ll be part of this process.

The UK space industry is thriving and I think any company involved in it, or any company looking to export, should talk to UKTI. They take the initiative, make the right connections and get real results.

About Goonhilly Earth Station

Cornwall’s Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd started in Jan 2011 when its 3 founders, Ian Jones, Piran Trezise and Steve Jones leased the ground station and its antennas from BT. The team set up GES to provide satellite companies with communications links to their craft. The company also helps to control the satellites, maintaining their existing orbits or moving them to new locations.

It employs 7 full-time staff and up to 20 contractors. More than 70% of GES’s business is exported, mainly to Europe and the USA. The company has also helped to develop a consortium of university partners, including the universities of Oxford, Manchester and Leeds.

Fast facts

Company: Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd

Industry: Space, Satellite Communications

Target market: USA

UKTI services: Trade Mission, Market Visit Support, Financial Support


Published 12 January 2015