News story

UK collaboration at the International Astronautical Congress

The UK Space Agency has been busy promoting the UK space sector at the 68th International Astronautical Congress held in Adelaide, Australia.

UK Space Agency Chief Executive Graham Turnock at the Nova-SAR-S signing between Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
UK Space Agency Chief Executive Graham Turnock at the Nova-SAR-S signing between Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

The conference, which ran from Monday 25 September to Friday 29 September, saw more than 4,500 space professionals and enthusiasts attend from 84 countries for a week of events, meetings, collaborations and discovery.

Earlier in the week a landmark agreement was signed between Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to provide Australia access to the cutting-edge British satellite NovaSAR-S.

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) will provide CSIRO a 10% share of the tasking and data acquisition capabilities from NovaSAR-S, a small radar satellite due for launch later this year.

Speaking at the conference Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “The UK space sector is in the middle of a renaissance, begun seven years ago under David Williams [former UK Space Agency CEO] here, and carried on over the last six years by a partnership between our excellent UK space industry, represented here by SSTL, and with continued support from the UK government at the highest levels.

“NovaSAR is an exciting opportunity for the UK and for our partners in the mission. Data from orbit has the potential to change the way we understand and interact with our changing environment, strengthening our public services as well as creating new opportunities for commercial services.”

Computer generated image of NovaSAR-S in orbit.  Credit SSTL.
Computer generated image of NovaSAR-S in orbit. Credit SSTL.

NovaSAR-S is a technology demonstration mission designed to complement much larger, complex radar satellites with a smaller, lighter and more cost effective platform that delivers Earth observation Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery day and night, and through cloud cover. Managing the energy use on board the small SAR platform has been made possible by using a new, highly efficient S-band solid-state amplifier technology and flying an innovative S-band SAR payload developed by Airbus UK in Portsmouth.

The agreement gives CSIRO tasking rights and the ability to access the raw data directly from the satellite, and a licence to use and share the data with other Australian companies and organisations over an initial 7 year period.

The UK Government provided £21 million grant to assist in the development of NovaSAR-S and will also benefit from access to the SAR data, significantly boosting the UK’s sovereign Earth Observation capabilities for applications such as ship detection and identification, oil spill detection, forestry monitoring and disaster monitoring, particularly flood detection and assessment.

Published 3 October 2017