Surrey Satellite Centre is well known for building mini satellites (100 - 500kg.), microsatellites (10 - 100kg) and nanosatellites (1 - 10kg). Now there are picosatellites that weigh less than 1kg! Find out more about six of our satellites...

Not many people realize there are now over 10,000 objects orbiting our planet.

They are used for looking at the Earth, looking out into space and communicating across the globe.

Some satellites were launched on old ballistic missiles, left over from the Cold War.

Nanosatellites like SNAP-1 are only the size of a football yet they can be monitored and controlled as they orbit 700 km above the Earth.

Mission Control at Surrey Space centre deals with an average of 160 satellite passes every day, each one lasting 10 - 20 minutes.

Because the Earth wobbles as it spins, the position of a satellite will seem to draw out a figure 8 in the sky.

In October 2000 the SNAP-1 nanosatellite used its innovative "machine vision system" of four micro-miniature single-chip video cameras (each smaller than a 2 pence/50 cent piece) to take images of other satellites as it flew past. Satellites can now be robotic 'eyes-in-the-sky' to allow astronauts and ground controllers to examine the outside of their space vehicles. News of SNAP's success is spreading.

SSTL development satellite


April 1999 (Dnepr) launched from what was once the world's most powerful inter-continental ballistic missile (the Russian

height 650km


UoSAT-12 carries payloads for multi-spectral and panchromatic Earth imaging; experimental S-band/L-band communications; and operational VHF/UHF store-and-forward messaging.

In addition to these payloads, UoSAT-12 demonstrates Surrey's minisatellite bus subsystems, including GPS orbit and attitude determination; cold-gas orbit and attitude control; Nitrous Oxide resistojet orbit control; star imagers; reaction wheels; Ethernet LAN; and 28-V power system.

Messages from Space home | Introducing the satellites