Feb 02, 2011

GSSF 2011: ‘Region to benefit from high-tech commercial opportunities in space,’ says expert

Estimated Article Reading Time: 3 min.

GSSF 2011: ‘Region to benefit from high-tech commercial opportunities in space,’ says expert

Sir Martin Sweeting, Chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), Professor and Head of the University of Surrey Space Centre and the pioneer of some of the smallest and lightest satellites in the world earning him a knighthood in the process, is set to address delegates at the Global Space and Satellite Forum (GSSF) 2011, which takes place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on 9-11 May.

Sir Martin said, “The Middle East region has already demonstrated a keen interest in space-based technologies and I am therefore delighted to be given the opportunity to address the delegates at this year’s GSSF. Small satellites are at the forefront of space innovation, and I believe that there are great opportunities for the region to benefit from the high-tech commercial opportunities in this growing space sector.”

Sir Martin will no doubt be recalling his experiences of building his own satellite as a student and how he has grown his company which now has an order book worth $640 million, with 34 satellites delivered to date, five more being readied for launch, a recent contract to supply a constellation of 1m class satellites and is in the process of delivering 14 navigation satellite payloads for the deployment phase of Europe’s Galileo navigation System.

In the late 1970s Sir Martin and a team of researchers at the University of Surrey designed and built a satellite that, remarkably, weighed just 72 kilos, when many satellites at that time were weighing in at over 4,000 kilos. Sir Martin’s secret was that he used technology found in many everyday consumer products, which turned out to be cheaper, lighter, quicker to make, reliable and with comparable performance as the much more expensive traditional systems normally used. SSTL was formed in 1985 to transfer the results of the team’s research into a commercial business, and the company has continued to be at the forefront of innovation in small satellites.

“SSTL’s approach of using quality off-the-shelf equipment is a business model that is now being copied around the world. Due to Sir Martin’s visionary brilliance many emerging economies can now dare to dream of launching their own ’small satellite’ programmes,” Director, Streamline Marketing Group, organisers of the Global Space and Satellite Forum (GSSF) 2011.

While speaking to the ‘Engineer’ last November, Sir Martin made a prediction which are precisely what you would expect from a visionary. He looks forward to manned space exploration returning within the next ten years after the discovery of significant amounts of water on the Moon and, never one to miss a business opportunity, Sweeting plans to surround the Moon with small satellites to give astronauts internet and communication capabilities.

Most importantly, Sir Martin is a strong advocate of using this high technology sector as a foundation to develop education, training, industry and economies. Many emerging economies have a long term strategy of developing their infrastructure and skill base using this approach, which then feeds other industries, grows wealth, provides education and training and gives a platform for national and international collaboration and cooperation.

“It’s not just the technology, but what you do with it, how you use it and what benefits you can bring to the people, the country and the region that is important.” Sir Martin explains.

Now in its third year, the overall conference programme will address issues ranging from life-saving developments in disaster management to the delivery of entertainment media via handheld consumer devices, bringing together senior industry figures and government officials.

Other headline speakers at the forum include, Dr. Omar El Emam, Advisor to the Arab Science and Technology Foundation; Andrew Nelson, COO of US-based XCOR Aerospace; Ahmed Al Mansoori, Director General, EIAST and Major Dr. Mohamed Al Ahbabi, ICT Advisor to the UAE Armed Forces.

GSSF is also supported by the UAE Space Reconnaissance Centre, NASA, Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, the Association of Specialist Technical Organisations for Space, the Society of Satellite Professionals International and the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies.

For more information log on to www.gssforum.com

About The Global Space and Satellite Forum (GSSF) 2011

GSSF is now in its third year and is the only event in the region dedicated to the discussion of commercial opportunities surrounding space and satellite development. The event is supported by the following companies and associations: EISAT; TRA; Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi; UAE Space Reconnaissance Centre, ispris, Society of Engineers and the International Space University.
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British small satellite pioneer Sir Martin Sweeting to address delegates at Global Space and Satellite Forum in Abu Dhabi in May