UK satellite to launch on Russian Soyuz

5 March 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
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TechDemoSat-1 over Earth (credit SSTL)

TechDemoSat-1 over Earth (credit SSTL)

A UK satellite has been confirmed for launch on the Russian Soyuz rocket by late 2013.

TechDemoSat-1, led by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) and part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board and South East England Development Board (SEEDA), is a collaborative project that aims to bolster the UK’s space industry by carrying commercial and research payloads into space. 

The agreement between SSTL and Glavkosmos / NPO Lavotchkin will see the TechDemoSat-1 mission launch on the Soyuz from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, later this year.

Upon successful completion of the launch and early operations (LEOP) campaign, mission operations will be handed over to the new Satellite Applications Catapult Centre Harwell, Oxfordshire. 

It will be the first UK satellite to be operated from this new facility, which is currently part of the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) to merge with the Catapult in April of this year.

"TechDemoSat-1 is the first in-orbit satellite project directly funded by the Technology Strategy Board," said Tim Just, head of Space at the Technology Strategy Board.

"This hugely exciting and anticipated development will provide true space flight heritage to a number of new ideas and companies. 

"Once in orbit TechDemoSat-1 will be able to test several new satellite-based products and services from UK businesses, breaking one of the key barriers to innovation in the space sector by reducing risk in demonstrating new space-based solutions and technologies."

TechDemoSat-1 is based on the SSTL-150 heritage satellite platform but has been modified to carry its cargo of eight experimental payloads, and also test some new SSTL subsystem designs. 

The payloads onboard the satellite include:

- SSTL’s Sea State Payload (SSP) that will demonstrate how GPS signals reflected off the ocean’s surface can be used to determine ocean roughness and help maritime shipping plan more efficient routes.

- MuREM, a miniature radiation environment and effects monitor, supplied by the Surrey Space Centre.

- The Charged Particle Spectrometer (ChaPS), a radiation detector that can perform simultaneous electron-ion detection, developed by the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL),

- The Highly Miniaturised Radiation Monitor (HMRM) from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Imperial College.

- The Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector (LUCID), a detector that can characterise the energy, type, intensity and directionality of high energy particles, developed by the Langton Star Centre, part of a sixth form college, and is an element of a broader outreach activity supported by the industrial partners.

- A Compact Modular Sounder (CMS) system, an infrared remote sensing radiometer unit, provided by Oxford University’s Planetary Group and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

- SSBV’s CubeSAT ACS payload, which will provide 3-axes attitude determination and control.

- The Cranfield de-orbit sail, designed by Cranfield University, will be the last payload to be operated on TechDemoSat-1 and will move the satellite to burn up quickly in the Earth’s atmosphere at the end of its life.

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