Surrey Satellite Technology (SST) has won a contract from Eutelsat for one of SST’s speciality craft. Eutelsat Quantum, the new satellite, will not launch until 2018, but is of a revolutionary design.

Financed in part by the UK government’s Space Agency and the European Space Agency, the satellite will be ‘small’ compared to the usual 5-6 tonnes satellites usually bought by Eutelsat and will weigh some 3.5 tonnes, with a modest 450 kilogramme payload.

However, it will be quite revolutionary in that the satellite will be extremely flexible in that its phased-array antennas will by directed and focused and “synthesised” from the ground, and thus highly adaptable. The satellite’s payload will contain an Airbus-designed signal processor, and carried within SST’s GMP-T framework configuration.

The UK is putting €60 million into the project in initial funding and the decision to proceed with the scheme was made at a European Space Agency ministerial meeting on December 2.

Guildford-based SST has been delivering small satellite missions for more than 25 years, and is now part of the giant Airbus Group (although the University of Surrey still owns 1 per cent of the business). The company grew out of the engineering department of the University of Surrey. The University’s very first satellite was launched back in 1981 and the company formed in 1985. Airbus (then EADS Astrium) bought the business in 2008. Over recent years, the company’s ambitions – and successes – have grown, and now embrace full geostationary satellites.

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