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This Is What the Spacecraft of the Future Will Look Like

The Surrey team is currently in Washington, D.C., at the Satellite 2015 Conference and Exhibition, which is the largest forum for end-users and solution providers of satellite communications technology.

While there is naturally a strong satellite communications focus at this conference, it is evolving into an event which brings together a diverse range of satellite industry professionals and organizations. Many of the themes for this year’s conference forum sessions reflect the trend towards “small satellites, big business,” and the growth of associated services and innovative business models such as hosted payloads.
Surrey US CEO Dr. John Paffett kicked off the week’s Innovation Forum technical sessions, moderating a session entitled “Spacecraft Design of the Future: This is Not Your Grandfather's Satellite” to discuss what the spacecraft of the future will look like and the industry mind-set and approaches that need to be developed to meet anticipated customer and mission needs.

John Paffett moderating the Innovation Forum session with panelists Warren Yasuhara, Bernd Sommer, Jean-Luc Froeliger, Stuart Dautridge, and Jenny Barna
The session drew on the perspectives of a wide range of satellite and launch expertise and experience: Jenny Barna, launch manager, Spire; Stuart Dautridge, vice president, advanced technology, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions; Jean-Luc Froeliger, vice president, satellite operations and engineering, Intelsat; Bernd Sommer, head of automation and robotics, German Aerospace Center, Space Administration; and Warren Yasuhara, vice president, space systems, Aerojet Rocketdyne.

There was unanimous agreement with Sommer’s statement that “what our kids and grandkids will see in the future is far beyond what we can imagine today.”

The panelists identified several enablers for these changes. Dautridge referred to exploiting developments in other industries such as the mobile phone industry, Yasuhara to the increasing maturity of additive manufacturing techniques, Sommer to developments in robotics, and John Paffett to a growing entrepreneurial mindset—all factors creating an environment that can foster new innovations for space systems. Commented Paffett, “As we move the performance up and the price point down, the utilization of satellites will increase.”

In addition to the increasing demand for space-based data, Paffett stated that “orbit servicing and maintenance are inevitable.” Barna expanded on this, commenting that the need for “new satellite constellation architectures and constant launches will drive change.”

“In-orbit reconfiguration is key,” added Froeliger.

Another member of the Surrey team, Maurizio Vanotti, head of telecommunications at SSTL, also took to the stage to focus on some of the capabilities necessary to enable improved performance and flexibility in the “Small Satellite Avionics Workshop,” which examined plug-and-play architectures of electronic and avionic systems and their build processes from design to implementation.
 Dr. Clare Martin, vice president of programs, and Joelle Sykes, SSTL public relations manager, at the Surrey booth
A nice bonus for us during the week at the conference was the release of the latest issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology, the cover page of which featured  the new Surrey geostationary communications satellite.

We’ve enjoyed meeting with the many industry partners and colleagues who have stopped by our booth, and we look forward to our continuing conversations and collaborations.


18 March 20150 Comments1 Comment

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