'Region to benefit from high-tech commercial opportunities in space,' says expert

British small satellite pioneer Sir Martin Sweeting to address delegates at Global Space ‎and Satellite Forum in Abu Dhabi in May

Sir Martin Sweeting, Chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), Professor and ‎Head of the University of Surrey Space Centre and the pioneer of some of the smallest ‎and lightest satellites in the world earning him a knighthood in the process, is set to ‎address delegates at the Global Space and Satellite Forum (GSSF) 2011, which takes ‎place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on 9-11 May. ‎

Sir Martin said, "The Middle East region has already demonstrated a keen interest in ‎space-based technologies and I am therefore delighted to be given the opportunity to ‎address the delegates at this year’s GSSF. Small satellites are at the forefront of space ‎innovation, and I believe that there are great opportunities for the region to benefit from ‎the high-tech commercial opportunities in this growing space sector."

Sir Martin will no doubt be recalling his experiences of building his own satellite as a ‎student and how he has grown his company which now has an order book worth $640 ‎million, with 34 satellites delivered to date, five more being readied for launch, a recent ‎contract to supply a constellation of 1m class satellites and is in the process of ‎delivering 14 navigation satellite payloads for the deployment phase of Europe’s Galileo ‎navigation System.

In the late 1970s Sir Martin and a team of researchers at the University of Surrey ‎designed and built a satellite that, remarkably, weighed just 72 kilos, when many ‎satellites at that time were weighing in at over 4,000 kilos. Sir Martin’s secret was that ‎he used technology found in many everyday consumer products, which turned out to be ‎cheaper, lighter, quicker to make, reliable and with comparable performance as the ‎much more expensive traditional systems normally used. SSTL was formed in 1985 to ‎transfer the results of the team’s research into a commercial business, and the ‎company has continued to be at the forefront of innovation in small satellites.

"SSTL's approach of using quality off-the-shelf equipment is a business model that is ‎now being copied around the world. Due to Sir Martin's visionary brilliance many ‎emerging economies can now dare to dream of launching their own ’small satellite’ ‎programmes," Director, Streamline Marketing Group, organisers of the Global Space ‎and Satellite Forum (GSSF) 2011.‎

While speaking to the 'Engineer' last November, Sir Martin made a prediction which are ‎precisely what you would expect from a visionary. He looks forward to manned space ‎exploration returning within the next ten years after the discovery of significant amounts ‎of water on the Moon and, never one to miss a business opportunity, Sweeting plans to ‎surround the Moon with small satellites to give astronauts internet and communication ‎capabilities.‎

Most importantly, Sir Martin is a strong advocate of using this high technology sector as ‎a foundation to develop education, training, industry and economies. Many emerging ‎economies have a long term strategy of developing their infrastructure and skill base ‎using this approach, which then feeds other industries, grows wealth, provides ‎education and training and gives a platform for national and international collaboration ‎and cooperation.‎

"It’s not just the technology, but what you do with it, how you use it and what benefits ‎you can bring to the people, the country and the region that is important." Sir Martin ‎explains.

Now in its third year, the overall conference programme will address issues ranging ‎from life-saving developments in disaster management to the delivery of entertainment ‎media via handheld consumer devices, bringing together senior industry figures and ‎government officials.‎

Other headline speakers at the forum include, Dr. Omar El Emam, Advisor to the Arab ‎Science and Technology Foundation; Andrew Nelson, COO of US-based XCOR ‎Aerospace; Dr. Ahmed Al Mansoori, Director General, EISAT and Major Dr. Mohamed ‎Al Ahbabi, ICT Advisor to the UAE Armed Forces. ‎

GSSF is also supported by the UAE Space Reconnaissance Centre, NASA, Emirates ‎Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, UAE Telecommunications Regulatory ‎Authority, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, the Association of Specialist Technical ‎Organisations for Space, the Society of Satellite Professionals International and the ‎European Association of Remote Sensing Companies. ‎

For more information log on to www.gssforum.com




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