Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has won a $60,000 study contract to investigate
the potential for the SSTL minisat-400 spacecraft to operate with communications
service providers using Internet Protocols.

A long standing requirement of the international space industry has been to provide a
worldwide standard for space communications. Until now, satellite operators have
been using their own protocol to communicate with spacecraft to the exclusion of other
users. Internet Protocols (IP) provide ultimate compatibility for PC users from around
the world to communicate, very simply, with spacecraft in-orbit. Satellite operators will
be able to download data files from spacecraft directly to their own PC without the need
to be in the groundstation. Internet routing will automatically route the requests to
whichever groundstation is currently in view of the spacecraft as it orbits the Earth.

Over the last 6 months, Surrey engineers have been using UoSAT-12 – a demonstration
minisatellite designed and built by SSTL – as a test bed for research into IP. This latest
NASA contract is for SSTL to evaluate the range of suitable architectures and
technologies to provide IP-based satellite services. An important part of the study will be
to identify critical gaps in technology, where modest investment can make a significant
long-term impact on the way NASA Enterprises conduct their space missions.

In March, SSTL was awarded a $120,000 NASA contract for the Magnetospheric
Multiscale (MMS) Mission Study to investigate the range of suitable concepts for a
five-spacecraft mission to investigate the Earth’s magnetosphere.

SSTL is the only non-US supplier to NASA’s Rapid Spacecraft Acquisition Program for
both its microsatellite and minisatellite platforms.