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April 5, 2022

UK orders first defence satellite for Minerva programme

The first in a network of new satellites will be designed and developed in a £22m contract with SSTL.

The UK has ordered the first defence satellite to support the £127m Minerva programme that seeks to develop a satellite network to integrate space with land, air, sea and cyber technologies.

Guildford-based satellite company Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) signed the £22m contract with Defence Equipment and Support on behalf of UK Space Command to deliver the satellite.

The 150kg satellite will be based on SSTL’s Carbonite+ platform and delivered under a three-year build programme.

Commenting on the contract award, British Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said: “The Minerva programme provides the route to use space to be fully interoperable and able to share data with our close allies.

“This is the crucial first step in delivering this capability and I’m delighted that we’re working together with UK companies to remain at the forefront of innovation in space.”

The contract works will support 100 high-skilled roles in Guildford.

The award will also help the UK Space Command to identify the processing power, radio frequencies and imagery capabilities to deliver space-based intelligence in time in support of the UK Armed Forces.

SSTL managing director Phil Brownnett said: “We are delighted that Space Command has signed with SSTL for a Carbonite+ satellite, and we are looking forward to working together on this pivotal mission for the UK.”

Notably, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) published the first Defence Space Strategy (DSS) earlier this year.

Recently, the UK Space Command took control of the Minerva project delivery.

The findings of the Minerva programme will support the £970m ISTARI programme that involves the delivery of a multi-satellite constellation to support greater global surveillance and intelligence for military operations.

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