Keeping satellites in space - where science and engineering meet

On Wednesday 5 March 2014 Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and Director of the Surrey Space Centre, delivered the first EPS Distinguished Lecture.

The event featured a roundtable discussion hosted by Professor Andy Schofield, Head of School Physics & Astronomy, where 12 students from across the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences had the opportunity to ask questions to Sir Martin on topics relating to his research and his career. The lecture itself detailed the history of Keeping Satellites in Space and Surrey Space Centre’s effective synergy of academic research and commercial exploitation. The evening closed with an intimate dinner with senior academics, students and alumni continuing the discussion. Read physics students Ceri Bradshaw, Rob Brennan-Craddock and Graham Kirkby summary of the event here.


Space at Surrey is a very effective synergy of academic research and commercial exploitation, particularly taking advantage of the enormous investments made into mass-produced microelectronics and modern manufacturing processes to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components to achieve highly capable small satellites and payloads, rapidly and at low cost.

The lecture was recorded in full for your enjoyment:

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting Biography

Since 1981, Sir Martin has 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 designed, built, launched and operated in orbit 41 nano, micro, and mini-satellites – including the international Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) and the first Galileo navigation satellite (GIOVE-A) for ESA. SSTL has grown to 610 staff with annual revenues exceeding £100M and exports over £0.5Bn – it is currently manufacturing 22 navigation payloads for the Galileo (Full Operational) Constellation, 3 high-resolution (1-metre) Earth Observation minisatellites and a low-cost medium-resolution SAR minisatellite (NovaSAR).

As Director of the Surrey Space Centre and a distinguished professor at the University of Surrey, 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 Agency Leadership Council.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting - EPS Distinguished Lecture Interview