Satellite Applications Catapult Operates one of the UK’s Latest National Satellites

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The Satellite Applications Catapult, an independent innovation and technology company, is getting ready to operate one of the UK’s latest national satellites, TechDemoSat-1. It will be launched on 8 July 2014 at 16.58 BST, along with another UK national programme, UKube-1.

TechDemoSat-1 (TDS-1) is an innovative technology demonstrator, built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board. TDS-1 has been developed to help demonstrate the state-of-the-art technology that small satellites can provide to the commercial and scientific communities. It will carry eight payloads, sourced from the academic and SME communities to gain data for both commercial and scientific use, such as: monitoring the maritime and shipping environment, monitoring man’s impact on the Earth, and providing in-situ measurements of a wide range of space radiation, including high energy cosmic ray particles.

During the launch, a team from SSTL will be working at Harwell to commission the TDS-1 activities. Working with SSTL, the Catapult will be responsible for the co-ordination and management of the payload missions at the Mission Operations Centre. We will also provide support to the Principal Investigators – the scientists using the payloads and instruments, during the life of the mission.

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said, “We will all be keeping our fingers crossed on a successful launch of these two satellites – a milestone for the UK space sector and for the Catapult. We are delighted that TDS-1 will be operated from our Missions Operation Centre that provides the UK with a state-of-the-art centre for national programmes.”

Stuart continued, “We are also excited about the data that will be made available from the 12 payloads on these two satellites, and working with the universities and SMEs who have built them. We are now in a new space age, where many organisations have the opportunity to put small satellites into space, or to benefit from the vast amount of data they provide. These are very exciting times – not only for the UK space industry, but for any sector that can make use of satellite-derived information.”

The UKube-1 nanosatellite is a collaboration between the UK Space Agency, industry and academia. It is one of the most advanced CubeSats of its kind, carrying four independent, advanced payloads. The UKube-1 mission is the pilot for a collaborative, national CubeSat programme bringing together UK industry and academia to fly educational packages, test new technologies, and carry out new space research quickly and efficiently. The funding partners for UKube-1 are the UK Space Agency, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and the Technology Strategy Board. The satellite was developed through an existing Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with innovative Scottish space company Clyde Space and the University of Strathclyde.