Space for everyone: November 14, 2012 at Imperial College


This will likely have a strong engineering component, but I shall be going and trying to decipher what I can anyway!

Space for everyone

Sir Martin Sweeting will deliver the 2012 Alec Reeves Lecture, looking at how the opportunities to study space are more open now than ever before
Date: 14 Nov 2012
Time: 17:30 – 18:30
Venue: 408, Electrical & Electronic Engineering Building
Campus: South Kensington Campus
Speaker: Sir Martin Sweeting, University of Surrey
Related Faculty: Engineering
Audience: Open to all
Event type: Lecture
Ticket: Drop in
Contact: Clare Drysdale


For 50 years space has been considered the preserve of super-powers, however modern microsatellites, taking advantage of the enormous commercial investments made into consumer electronics, have been able to exploit commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) devices developed for the consumer markets to reduce dramatically the size, cost and manufacture times of small and yet highly capable satellites. This is fundamentally changing the economics of space and putting sophisticated space assets within the reach of almost every nation.
The UK has pioneered advanced small satellites through research at the Surrey Space Centre and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), formed 25 years ago as a spin off company to transfer academic research to commercial exploitation. Having built and launched 39 satellites for Earth observation, technology demonstration, navigation, space science and disaster monitoring constellations, SSTL continues to thrive as an independent company within the EADS Astrium Group. SSTL is now building 22 navigation payloads for the EC/ESA Galileo satellite navigation programme, 3 high resolution optical Earth observation satellites and developing an innovative small radar satellite NovaSAR jointly funded by the UK government. Research at the Surrey Space Centre is exploring the technologies and concepts needed for future generations of small satellites – both for Earth orbit and affordable interplanetary exploration.


Sir Martin pioneered rapid-response, low-cost and highly-capable small satellites utilising modern terrestrial COTS devices to change the economics of space. In 1985 he formed a spin-off University company (SSTL) which has now designed, built, launched and operated in orbit 39 nano, micro, and mini-satellites – including the international Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) and GIOVE-A, the first Galileo navigation satellite for ESA. SSTL has grown to 500 staff with annual revenues of £100M with total export sales in excess of £600M and is currently manufacturing the 22 navigation payloads for the Galileo Full Operational Constellation, a new constellation of 3 high-resolution (1-metre) Earth Observation minisatellites and a low-cost medium-resolution SAR minisatellite (NovaSAR) supported by the UK government.
As Director of the Surrey Space Centre, Sir Martin leads a team of 90 faculty and doctoral researchers investigating advanced small satellite concepts and techniques, acting as the research laboratory for SSTL – real academic-commercial synergy. Sir Martin has been appointed OBE and knighted by HM The Queen, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and most recently has received the prestigious von Karman Wings Award from CalTech/JPL. He is a member of the UK Space Leadership Council.

Previous articleSpaceX and the Future of Space Exploration: RAES Friday 16 November
Next articleDr Jill’s top ten viva tips (pass your PhD oral exam)
Dr Jill Stuart is an academic based at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is an expert in the politics, ethics and law of outer space exploration and exploitation. She is a frequent presence in the global media (print, radio, television, documentary) and regularly gives lectures around the world. From 2013-2017 she was Editor in Chief of the Elsevier journal Space Policy where she remains on the Editorial Board. She is also on the Board of Advisors of METI International, conducting scientific research into messaging potential extraterrestrial intelligence. She is one of an elite number of people to be endorsed by the UK Home Office as an Exceptional Talent Migrant/ World Leader in her Field. In 2015 she was awarded the prestigious Margaret Mead Award Lecture by the British Science Association in recognition of her cutting edge research. She is trained in both domestic and international mediation and has done consultancy work for the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. She has a sub-specialism in women, peace and security and gender based violence. She is a Trustee of Luton All Women’s Centre.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here