Surrey Blog

NSS 2013 Heralds the Rise of Cost-Effective Space

We’re looking forward to the 29th National Space Symposium (NSS), run by the Space Foundation, that takes place this week here in Colorado. An important fixture in the space calendar every year, the event brings together representatives from space agencies, businesses, government organizations, and research facilities to discuss all aspects of the space industry.
This year, NASA, which usually takes a significant role in the event, will not be present due to the impact of sequestration. Perhaps this is a sign of the times: cuts across the board have meant that a push for cost-effective approaches is being felt in all sections of the space industry. At Surrey, we have long used our small satellite approach and firm-fixed pricing model to provide cost certainty and avoid the cost and schedule increases often encountered by larger institutionally-focused missions. Discussion at NSS always reflects changes in the industry and so the topic of cost-cutting, experienced by many in this sector, is set to be a theme across presentations at the event.
One discussion that caught our eye is “Mission Assurance in a Budget-Constrained Environment.” Mission assurance is exceptionally important to ensure that all aspects of a mission meet the required criteria and will function in space. Our mission assurance and risk management activities are very well suited to the missions we deliver and are inherent in the way our company is structured and in the way we run all of our projects. Such a philosophy is important for the development and delivery of new, cost-effective and rapidly built missions.
Wanda M. Austin, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation, will be chairing this discussion. We worked with some of her colleagues in 2011 to enable the Aerospace Corp to validate the Surrey project costing and delivery approach.
Another enabler for the rapid delivery of small satellite missions is the streamlining of the acquisition process. For example, our off-the-shelf platforms, subsytems, and services are available for procurement through our NASA Rapid III catalog, GSA schedule contract, and our e-commerce website. Our NASA Rapid III platforms can be ready for payload integration within 24 months.
OTBWith the increasing need to deliver missions quickly and cost-effectively, it is becoming more important to take a more pragmatic approach to mission assurance. We are looking forward to the discussion about the challenges in reducing time frames while maintaining mission success.
Another discussion that deals with the increasing mission constraints caused by the squeeze on budgets is “Hosted Payloads - Issues and Evolution.” Hosted payloads are becoming a “hot topic” in the space sector as they can provide a cost-effective alternative to dedicated missions. We’ve been flying hosted payloads alongside our primary mission payloads for more than two decades and our upcoming Orbital Test Bed (“OTB”) mission is providing flight opportunities for customers who want reliable, low-risk access to orbit. OTB will enable our hosted payload customers to rapidly and cost-effectively space-qualify new technology, acquire mission experience, and generate in-orbit data– while sharing the cost of the satellite and the launch. We are close to finalizing the payloads for our OTB-1 orbital test bed mission, and because of the level of interest, we are beginning initial discussions for OTB-2.
“Redefining Disaster Management” is another topic that is close to home. One of the most important issues for managing disasters is capturing and distributing timely imagery of the affected areas. Constellations of small satellites, such as the DMC constellation, built by Surrey and operated by our sister company, DMCii, have the unique capability to provide frequent opportunities to acquire imagery at a cost comparable to a single large satellite. The first image of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was captured by the DMC and used to help relief efforts.
NovaSARSurrey is currently developing a low-cost space SAR satellite called NovaSAR that could help disaster management with its ability to image through cloud and in darkness. Our forthcoming sub-meter imaging constellation called DMC3, will provide very high-resolution images in which damage inflicted by disasters can be accurately assessed. These satellites hold great potential for geospatial intelligence applications because the cost per km2 is an order of magnitude less than previously thought possible – giving users access to more data.
Overall, 2013 is proving an exciting year for Surrey and we’re looking forward to discussing our projects and plans at the NSS. As well as the projects discussed above, we’ve just opened new purpose-built facilities in Colorado. There’s already work underway in our new clean rooms with the batch production of GPS receivers. If you’re attending NSS, we invite you to visit us at booth #122 to check out what’s new.
Also, be sure to attend the panel “A Fresh Take on Old Concepts: Reusable Launch Vehicles, Small Sats and Satellite Servicing,” at which our CEO Dr. John Paffett will be speaking . It’s set to be a fascinating look at the future of satellite launches and maintenance.


08 April 20130 Comments1 Comment

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