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UK Government-owned ground station to break 20-year satellite silence

Image credit: Scott Evans | Unsplash

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) will conduct the first tasking of a commercial satellite by a UK Government-owned and operated ground station for nearly 20 years.

In early October, DSTL will demonstrate its satellite operation capability using its relocatable ground station to task and receive data from multiple commercial satellites. This will represent the first time in nearly 20 years that a UK Government-owned and operated ground station will communicate with a satellite. The demonstration will be carried out in collaboration with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, which will provide control of two low-Earth-orbit satellites to the DSTL ground station for tasking validation and verification purposes.

Lessons learnt from this demonstration will be used to enhance DSTL’s satellite operations capability as it looks to lead a growing number of space and ground demonstrator missions in the future.

Mike O’Callaghan, DSTL’s space programme manager, said: “Space is increasingly recognised as a critical domain for the maintenance of UK and global security. DSTL’s growing capability will support the MoD [Ministry of Defence] in enabling freedom of action in future operations for the UK and its allies.”

Air Vice Marshal Harv Smyth, MoD’s director of space, commented, “This capability demonstration and collaboration between DSTL and SSTL is extremely important for defence. DSTL and the Space Directorate are working closer than ever before as we take forward an ambitious space R&D programme, and the experiences gained from initiatives such as this help enormously to underpin our space capability planning for the future.”

Phil Brownnett, managing director of SSTL, said: “SSTL is pleased to support DSTL’s ambitions to develop new space technologies and innovations and welcomes this opportunity for collaboration to progress its satellite operations capability.”

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