INNOVATIVE BRITISH-MADE MICROSATELLITES
Two British-made microsatellites, each weighing just 50 kg, are scheduled for launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome on 23 June. They will be among an armada of six satellites on board a Ukrainian-Russian Zenit rocket.
Both satellites have been designed and constructed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) at the Surrey Space Centre's purpose-built facility at the University of Surrey in Guildford.
FASat-Bravo is an identical replacement for the FASat-Alpha which was launched on 31 August 1995 but became stranded in space when it failed to separate from the main Ukrainian satellite to which it was attached. It has been constructed under a Technology Transfer Programme between the Chilean Air Force and SSTL.
The main task of this first Chilean satellite will be to monitor the destruction of the ozone layer above Chile. This will be done from a sun-synchronous orbit 835 km above the Earth, so lighting conditions will be identical during each overhead pass. The experiment will measure the amount of solar ultraviolet light which is scattered by the upper atmosphere. The data collected will be correlated with ground-based observations made by the Chilean Meteorological Directorate.
The satellite will also carry a sophisticated Earth imaging system composed of a wide angle camera providing meteorological images with a resolution of 2000 metres and a narrow angle camera with 200 metre resolution. Up to 600 images of 300 Kb each can be stored on the satellite's solid state data recorder.
"We are delighted to work again with Chile on this exciting project," said Professor Martin Sweeting, Director of the Surrey Space Centre and CEO of SSTL," and are looking forward to a successful mission."
According to Lt. Col. Mario Arancibia, Chilean Air Force Project Manager, "FASat-Bravo renews the Chilean Air Force commitment to bring the benefits of space to all Chileans with a spacecraft that directly stimulates the interests of the environmental, scientific and youth communities."
The second Surrey-made satellite is Thailand's first microsatellite (TMSAT). SSTL signed a 4M pound contract for a microsatellite technology transfer and training programme with Thailand in November 1995. TMSAT has been constructed by Thai engineers with the aid of SSTL and will operate from low Earth orbit carrying a number of experimental payloads. These include a digital signal processing system to investigate ways of enhancing satellite communications, in addition to wide and narrow angle cameras capable of taking 100 metre resolution, multi-spectral images of the Earth's surface.
SSTL was formed in 1985 as a company wholly owned by the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK. With 140 staff and postgraduate research students, the Centre houses state-of-the- art satellite research and construction facilities. The company has pioneered inexpensive yet powerful microsatellites - the size of a TV set and weighing just 50 kg. Its customers have come from Chile, France, Portugal, Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, USA and UK.
Having already designed and built 12 satellites - an average of two each year since 1990 - SSTL has become a world leader in small satellite engineering. The aim of the company is:
Further information on SSTL is available on the Web at: http://www.ee.surrey.ac.uk/EE/CSER/UOSAT
Dr Jacqueline Mitton, RAS Public Relations Officer
Phone: Cambridge ((0)1223) 564914
FAX: Cambridge ((0)1223) 572892
Peter Bond, Space Science Advisor