Surrey Blog

Hosted Payloads: Sharing Resources and Cutting Costs

The hosted payload concept is stimulating a lot of interest at the moment and is being recognized as a way of cutting the cost of space missions and increasing opportunities to get payloads into orbit. While dedicated spacecraft will continue to be designed and built, hosting payloads on commercial spacecraft is becoming an important element in the long-term strategy of government departments to ensure regular, low-risk, and cost-effective orbit delivery for a wide variety of sensors, instruments, and equipment.
GIOVE-A hosted a number of scientific payloads. Credit: ESA - P. Carril
Large geostationary communication satellites have long hosted payloads, allowing government offices to fly transponders alongside their own primary commercial communications payload, or leasing bandwidth instead of procuring a large and costly satellite bus for a dedicated mission. A few well-publicized non-communications programs, such as the U.S. Air Force’s CHIRP mission, highlight the trend towards more flexible cost saving models. Space News reports that the U.S. Air Force plans to continue the CHIRP program.

GIOVE-A radiation monitoring payloadThere has been a proliferation of hosted payload events in recent weeks. Surrey personnel attended the second annual Hosted Payload Summit held in Washington, DC, on September 27th, with a group of like-minded participants from across the space industry who can see the benefits in the hosted payload approach and who are now focusing on finding solutions to the key challenges.

The webinar “Unleashing the Potential of Hosted Payloads” held by Euroconsult and the Hosted Payload Alliance on October 9th continued the industry dialog. Colonel Scott W. Beidleman’s participation in the panel discussion provided valuable insight into government thinking—his U.S. Air Force SMC/XR office recently issued a “sources sought” solicitation for HoPS (Hosted Payload Solutions).
There’s a lot to think about, as a hosted payload isn’t “one size fits all.” We at Surrey have a long history of accommodating, integrating, launching, operating, and delivering data for hosted payloads onboard our small satellite platforms, as well as filing launch vehicle manifests. To date we’ve delivered over 50 separate hosted payloads into orbit, including those for communications, navigation, space and Earth monitoring, and technology demonstration. Each year the capability of smallsats increases: more efficient packaging of bus and payload electronics and advances in solar panel efficiencies have allowed us to maximize the mass, power, volume, and propellant fractions available to support customer payloads.

ExactView-1 in anechoic chamberSurrey has been leading the way in the LEO domain—we have an unrivalled track record of successfully flying hosted payloads—with 30 out of our 39 spacecraft hosting third-party payloads alongside the primary mission payloads, providing very cost-effective small satellite flight opportunities.  

Early in 2012, we announced the Orbital Test Bed (OTB) flight opportunity offering excess capacity for suitable payloads on a purpose-built satellite. Our OTB hosted payload flights take advantage of opportunistic rideshare options and excess bus capacity to accommodate a wide range of mission requirements from LEO to GEO. The first satellite OTB-1 is scheduled for a launch into LEO in early 2015.


16 October 20120 Comments1 Comment

Back to Blog

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.