University of Surrey

University of Surrey, Guildford
Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom
+44 (0)1483 300800

The Surrey Space Centre (SSC) at the University of Surrey is a world leading centre of excellence in space engineering. Our strategy is to underpin the technical development of the space industry through its advanced research programmes. We are a world’s leading research centre for small, cost effective space missions, generating leading research and bringing innovation to our spin-out company SSTL and pushing the boundaries of satellite technologies and applications.

The SSC has a multidisciplinary engineering competence that gives us a full end-to-end capability to develop and execute space missions, from concept study to spacecraft design, to mission operations and exploitation of space data. We also provide well focused space engineering industrial short courses, training the next generation space scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Capability highlight

  1. Build (Satellites): Space hardware, Electronics & robotics and Software & engineering

Nano-/pico-satellite technology: Developing a pico-satellite called PALMSAT, which is an ultra low-cost satellite suitable for research and project activities.

Surrey Technology for Autonomous systems and Robotics (STAR) Lab: Building on ‘small-sat’ engineering approach to advance autonomous systems and robotics for space. The STAR lab also offers ‘dusty’ robotics laboratory, ‘clean’ robotics laboratory and reconfigurable orbital robotics testbed.

Micro-rovers and robotic manipulators design: Designing teleoperated and semi-autonomous micro-rovers and robotic manipulators for extreme and harsh environments on Earth and in space.

On board data handling: Designing efficient system for cutting-edge micro- and nano- technologies, advanced software developments and biologically inspired artificial intelligence techniques.

Space weather environment and effects monitoring: Investigating single-event-effect and total-ionising-dose phenomena as they occur in commercial-off-the-shelf technologies flown on-board Surrey’s spacecraft, and evaluating mitigation and protection strategies; Minimising the size of these instruments so as to provide a means for routinely monitoring the radiation environment inside operational spacecraft; Analysing radiation effects in the advanced micro-electronic data handling systems and in studying the anisotropy in the proton flux in the South Atlantic anomaly.

Thermal IR imaging: Developing a small, un-cooled, solid-state thermal imaging system for future spacecraft.

Camera technology and machine vision: Developing the next generation of complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) camera based systems for attitude sensing, visual inspection, optical navigation and multi-camera/multi-spectral EO (eight-channel radiometric imaging sensor). This is aimed at such applications like ocean colour sensing, land use monitoring and mineral prospecting.

Propulsion system development: Producing low-cost, moderate-to-high performance propulsion systems capable of moving microsatellites from low to high earth orbit and beyond, and to maintain microsatellites in their orbits.

  1. Collect: Satellites

Antennas and tracking: Offering amateur satellite support where possible with equipment including BA antennas, BB antennas and helical antennas.

  1. Downlink: Communications

Ground station: The primary VHF/UHF transmitting and receiving missions at the SSC. This ground station is used for research projects using the equipment, computers and soldering stations with amateur satellite support where possible.

  1. Analyse: Earth observation

Earth observation image calibration and radiometry: Aiding SSTL in the optical and radiometric calibration of the multispectral cameras, which are flown on the disaster monitoring constellation spacecraft. The first of these, ALSAT-1, was successfully launched in November 2002, and is producing detailed swath-width images.

  1. Product: Insight & monitoring

Global total ozone mapping and UV imaging: Developing a miniaturised ozone layer monitoring experiment (OLME) to monitor the distribution and concentration of ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere at a small fraction of the cost of conventional instruments.

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capabilities: Maritime surveillance, flood monitoring, vegetation monitoring, post-earthquake monitoring, bi-static SAR imaging and probability models and parameter estimation for polarimetric SAR data.

  1. Beyond Earth: Space exploration and Space logistics

Space debris removal: Performing key active debris removal (ADR) technology demonstrations representative of an operational scenario during a low-cost mission.

Space mission design and space surveillance and tracking: Exploiting the nonlinearities of the dynamics and optimal control theory to reduce mission costs and enable new mission concepts.

  1. Facilities and other

Buildings and facilities: Offering business units (surrey research park) and rental desks (SETsquared surrey incubator) to external SMEs with internet connection, phone line, low cost meeting rooms, data projector and conference phones, kitchen facilities and free parking.

Other facilities: Thermal chamber, shock and impact test facility, vibration controller, vacuum chambers, cleanroom, air bearing test facilities and Helmholtz coil facility.

5G innovation centre: Developing and commercialising of 5G technologies through a UK 5G Hub and a number of large scale regional and city test beds to showcase applications of 5G in the space economy.

Global sensing and satellite centre (GloSS): Demonstrating improved calibration and data quality in EO applications for agriculture, future cities and the blue economy, supporting the uptake of EO downstream services.

Business incubation services: Offering business support, 1-2-1 mentoring, SETsquared client portal access, SETsquared events and PR support to external SMEs.

Angel investment: Organising pitching events and providing support to businesses raising finance without any fees or shares. The S100 club has helped over 200+ businesses raise over £80+ million and over 75% of the businesses selected to pitch have secured funding.

Innovation advisor

Ian James: (

See more on The University of Surrey's website