SSTL celebrates 30th anniversary

Posted on 3 Jul 2015 by The Manufacturer

Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) is celebrating 30 years since the founding of the company in June 1985.

SSTL was formed in 1985 as a spin-out company from the University of Surrey, to transfer the results of its research into small satellite engineering into a commercial enterprise.

The growth of the company accelerated and in 2006 it moved from the University to purpose-built premises on the Surrey Research Park.

Today the firm employs 500 staff and assembles multiple satellites and space hardware in a suite of cleanrooms and laboratories, but the origins of the company were much more humble: a home-made structure in the corner of a University of Surrey laboratory served as a “cleanroom” where Sir Martin Sweeting – then a PhD student at the University – led a small team to design and manufacture UoSAT-1, an experimental small satellite built using commercial-off-the-shelf components and launched in 1981.

On June 29, founder and executive chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting gave spoke to staff, reminding them of their achievements and looking forward to future years of innovation, with space hardware beyond Earth’s orbit firmly on SSTL’s wish list.

He said: “We have come a long way together since the early days of our first microsatellites. Indeed, small satellites are now all the fashion and we can be proud to have stimulated a new global industry – demonstrating that British inventiveness is alive and well.

“There have been of course many challenges and as many highlights throughout the past three decades but, above all, the achievements are due to the growth of an incredible team at SSTL who are dedicated to the exacting task of designing and building complex but reliable satellites for our customers, seeing them perform in space, and stimulating new applications and businesses.”

To date the SSTL has launched 43 satellites, with a further four satellites due to launch this year. The company has currently more than 20 spacecraft in manufacture or awaiting launch, as well as 22 payloads for Galileo, Europe’s satellite navigation system.