Professor Sir Martin Sweeting is the founder and executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), the world’s first small satellite technology firm. It is a corporate spin-off from the University of Surrey, where Professor Sweeting is a Distinguished Professor who founded and chairs the Surrey Space Centre.
With a team, Professor Sweeting designed and built the UoSAT-1, the first modern 70kg ‘microsatellite’, which he convinced the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to launch, as a secondary piggyback payload into Low Earth orbit alongside a larger primary payload. UoSAT-1 was controlled in orbit after launch in from the groundstation on Surrey campus using amateur radio bands. Professor Sweeting saw the potential in microsatellites and eventually launched SSTL in 1985 with 4 employees and a capital of £100 to develop it further.
SSTL has since grown and now has a staff count of 500. In 2010 and 2012, SSTL was awarded contracts to supply 22 navigation payloads for Europe’s Galileo space navigation system and in 2017 was awarded a contract to supply a further 12 payloads.
In 2000, Professor Sweeting was awarded the Mullard Award by the Royal Society and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in the same year. In recognition of his contributions to the field of spacecraft design, Professor Sweeting received an OBE in 1996 and was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours in 2002. He has also received the Faraday Medal of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the CalTech-JPL von Karman Wings Award, and the COSPAR-Chinese Academy of Sciences Jeoujang Jaw Award for international space development.