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Fellowship award honours satellite pioneer

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and the University’s Surrey Space Centre, been admitted to Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).

The award was made in recognition of his leadership and exceptional contribution in pioneering the use of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technologies in space and, in particular, the use of small, low-cost satellites for practical applications, as well as new forms of international collaboration in space that recognise the inherently global nature of satellites.

Sir Martin, who graduated from Surrey with both a BSc in electronics and PhD in radio engineering, said: “Over a span of many years, I have both attended and delivered many lectures at the Society, and these have proved to be invaluable opportunities to exchange insights and nuggets of information with both members and the general public. It is therefore a tremendous honor to be elected to Honorary Fellowship of the RAeS, an institution which I greatly admire for its dedication in promoting the aerospace industry all over the world, and for its commitment to sharing knowledge and ideas.”

Martin Broadhurst OBE FRAeS, President of the RAeS, said: “For over a century, the Royal Aeronautical Society has been honoring outstanding achievements, innovation and excellence in aerospace and the admittance of Sir Martin Sweeting to the Society as an Honorary Fellow is no exception.

“Thanks to Sir Martin’s leadership and entrepreneurial spirit, SSTL has pioneered the development of small, affordable satellites for a huge range of applications, giving the UK a leading position in this arena. Sir Martin has also been at the forefront of increasing awareness of the economic and social value of the space industry in the UK and promoting the sector to government.”

Following two experimental microsatellites built by Sir Martin’s research team at the University, which launched in 1981and 1984, he pioneered rapid-response, low-cost and highly-capable small satellites using modern consumer electronics to ‘change the economics of space’.

Sir Martin also chairs Surrey Space Centre, which acts as the research laboratory for SSTL—an exemplar of real academic-commercial synergy. The SSC collaborated with SSTL on the world’s first smartphone nanosatellite, STRaND-1, in February 2013 and also launched a research nanosatellite for orbital debris mitigation this year.