Surrey Blog

Awards season for Surrey

This month Surrey has been presented with two awards that recognize over 25 years of applying innovative approaches to reduce the cost of access to space. Last week, Sir Martin Sweeting, Surrey’s founder, received the 2012 International Von Kármán Wings Award from the Aerospace Historical Society and the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
Sir Martin receives International Von Kármán Wings Award
The award recognizes aerospace pioneers who have made exceptional contributions to engineering and science. Since its inception in 1985, it has been presented to aerospace visionaries such astronaut Buzz Aldrin, engineer Burt Rutan, and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke.
Sir Martin receives awardIt is Sir Martin’s pioneering adaptation of COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) technology for space missions, kick-starting the small satellite market and providing cost-effective alternatives to expensive spacecraft, that earned him this accolade. In particular, Sir Martin is credited for his vision in using constellations of highly capable small satellites for providing rapid response disaster imagery with the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC).
Sir Martin received messages of congratulations from leading figures in space and science. Dr. S. Pete Worden, center director of NASA Ames Research Center, and Elon Musk, CEO and chief designer at SpaceX, spoke of Sir Martin’s contribution to space at the award presentation at the Athenaeum on September 13th over an excellent meal in the plush surroundings of the Athenaeum in Pasadena. 

Our COO Chris Pearson was amongst the diners, commenting: "The speeches honoring the presentation were extremely entertaining – particularly stories of Surrey’s early launch campaign adventures in the jungles of French Guiana. The recognition that Sir Martin was responsible for increased credibility, performance, and utility of small satellites over the last three decades was a common theme from all the speakers despite his humility stressing a team effort from all at Surrey – congratulations!"
Also last week, the Disaster Monitoring Constellation was itself honored by American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Systems award, presented to Sir Martin on behalf of the DMC at the AIAA Space 2012 conference and exhibition at the Pasadena Convention Center in California.

The DMC was nominated for this award by Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Dr. Jerry Sellers for being “an unprecedented example of international cooperation in the application of space systems to the mitigation of human suffering.”  Jerry is a well respected figure throughout the small satellite industry – few people know that he earned his Doctorate at the University of Surrey while acting as the International technical coordinator for the USAF SMC’s PICOSat mission before moving on to become director of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Space Systems Research Center.

Unique to the space industry, the DMC defined a new model for both international collaboration and for space missions: The 5 members – the UK, Nigeria, Algeria, China, and Spanish imaging company Deimos Imaging – each independently owns its individual satellites, but together they pool their resources. This collaboration, that spans more than 10 years, makes use of each respective satellite’s capabilities and provides daily revisit for flexible and rapid disaster response and commercial imaging campaigns.
The constellation’s shared infrastructure and cost-effective small satellites have greatly benefited members as well, allowing countries such as Algeria and Nigeria, which previously found space prohibitively expensive, to establish national space programs and collect valuable data for domestic resource and environmental monitoring purposes. It has contributed to UN humanitarian work, and plays an important role in the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters helping authorities plan aid and emergency response during natural disasters.


19 September 20120 Comments1 Comment

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