Spaceman’s name launches the Guildford Roll of Honour

Friday 1 July 2011

Satellite pioneer Professor Sir Martin Sweeting is the first person to have his name inscribed on the prestigious new Guildford Roll of Honour.

Sir Martin received the award last night (30 June) at a special celebratory black tie dinner at Guildford’s historic Guildhall in front of representatives from business, education and public service.  

It is being made in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the economy and profile of Guildford worldwide. 
The Roll of Honour, a collaboration between the University of Surrey and Guildford Borough Council, seeks to recognise exceptional local individuals who have made a substantial impact to the economic wealth, social well-being or artistic culture of Guildford and the surrounding area and achieved major recognition in their field.

Nominees may come from the commercial, academic, health, social or arts sectors, as long as they can be judged to have made real impact for the benefit of the Borough. The Roll of Honour takes the form of a special custom-made plaque which is on permanent display at the Guildhall.

Sir Martin is Executive Chairman of the Surrey Research Park based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) which he formed in 1985.  Since then he has won both national and international acclaim for his work spanning three decades in the development and manufacture of a new generation of highly reliable and cost effective space satellites.  SSTL now has 320 commercial staff and export sales worth over £340 million. Sir Martin is also Director of the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey where he leads a team of researchers investigating advanced small satellite concepts and techniques.  The Space Centre acts as the research laboratory for SSTL.

Sir Martin is no stranger to national awards either.  Top honours include being awarded an OBE in HM Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1995 and receiving a knighthood for services to the small satellite industry in 2002.  Professional and industry awards include the Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal, the Royal Society’s Mullard Prize and the Royal Institute of Navigation Gold Medal.  Sir Martin is also a Fellow of both the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society and a Distinguished Professor at the University of Surrey.   

Speaking about the award, Sir Martin says: ‘As a University town with a thriving research park, the synergy of academia and industry to exploit academic research to create business opportunities is one of Guildford’s strengths.  The Surrey Space Centre and SSTL are an example of exactly this and have put Guildford firmly on the international map as an innovative, high-technology community.’

Professor Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey adds: ‘We are proud to be launching this award with the Borough Council in the University’s 120th anniversary year.  Professor Sweeting’s pioneering work in the field of small satellite technology is of both national and global significance and makes him a very worthy winner.  He is a fantastic role model for students of space technology and aspiring entrepreneurs.  It is particularly fitting that he is the first to receive an award which recognises and celebrates local innovation, creativity and the advancement of social welfare.’  

Tony Rooth, Leader of Guildford Borough Council, said:  “Professor Sweeting is a deserving recipient of this award. He has made an outstanding contribution as an ambassador for the borough and showing that Guildford is a centre for excellence, trade and innovation in all fields, including space technologies. We are delighted to be associated with this new award which celebrates the positive impact that exceptional individuals bring to the wealth, well-being and culture of the area.”

Notes to editors:

In 2011 the University of Surrey is celebrating its 120th anniversary since its beginnings as Battersea Polytechnic Institute in 1891.  The launch of the Guildford Roll of Honour is part of these celebrations.

About the University of Surrey

The University of Surrey is one of the UK’s leading professional, scientific and technological universities with a world class research profile and a reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Ground-breaking research at the University is bringing direct benefit to all spheres of life – helping industry to maintain its competitive edge and creating improvements in the areas of health, medicine, space science, the environment, communications, defence and social policy. Programmes in science and technology have gained widespread recognition and it also boasts flourishing programmes in dance and music, social sciences, management and languages and law. In addition to the campus on 150 hectares just outside Guildford, Surrey, the University also owns and runs the Surrey Research Park, which provides facilities for 140 companies employing 2,700 staff.


The Sunday Times names Surrey as ‘The University for Jobs' which underlines the university’s growing reputation for providing high quality, relevant degrees. Surrey is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience. www.1994group.ac.uk

About Guildford Borough Council

Guildford Borough Council is one of the biggest district councils in England and offers a wide range of services for over 135,000 residents. These include community care and day centres, refuse and recycling collections, planning, street cleaning, environmental health, council tax collection and benefits, parks and car-parks.


We manage a local housing stock of over 5,000 homes and also provide affordable and sheltered housing schemes. Guildford is the most competitive town in the country and our economic development team works with businesses, and other organisations, across the borough to support our dynamic local economy. Residents and visitors can also benefit from our many heritage, tourism and leisure services including Guildford Spectrum and G Live.

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