Press Release

SSTL selected for first private Mars mission

By SpaceRef Editor
December 10, 2013
Filed under , ,

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has been selected to carry out a concept study to develop an interplanetary communications system for Mars One, the privately funded project to establish a human settlement on Mars.

Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL said: “SSTL believes that the commercialisation of space exploration is vital in order to bring down costs and schedules and fuel progress. This study gives us an unprecedented opportunity to take our tried and tested approach and apply it Mars One’s imaginative and exhilarating challenge of sending humans to Mars through private investment.”

During the course of the study, SSTL will analyse the mission requirements and concept design for communications satellites in a Mars synchronous orbit that would provide the back-bone of communications between the Mars settlers and Earth. The study will consider the technical specifications required for the communications satellites, the orbit, and the launch, transfer and injection scenarios that would put them into operation.

The study will also provide the technical specifications for a communications satellite that will be launched in 2018 together with a Mars lander from Lockheed Martin, as a demonstration mission for Mars One. The demonstration satellite will provide a high bandwidth communications system in a Mars synchronous orbit and will be used to relay data and a live video feed from the lander on the surface of Mars back to Earth.  

Bas Lansdorp, M.Sc., Mars One Co-founder and CEO states: “We’re very excited to have contracted Lockheed Martin and SSTL for our first mission to Mars. Both are significant players in their field of expertise and have outstanding track records. These will be the first private spacecraft to Mars and their successful arrival and operation will be a historic accomplishment.”

About SSTL

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is the world’s leading small satellite company, delivering operational space missions for a range of applications including Earth observation, science and communications. The Company designs, manufactures and operates high performance satellites and ground systems for a fraction of the price normally associated with space missions, with 600 staff working on turnkey satellite platforms, space-proven satellite subsystems and optical instruments. 

Since 1981 SSTL has built and launched 41 satellites for 16 countries – as well as providing training and development programmes, consultancy services, and mission studies for ESA, NASA, international governments and commercial customers, with its innovative approach that is changing the economics of space.

In 2006 SSTL formed a UK subsidiary company, DMCii, to exploit the applications of its small Earth Observation satellites and in 2008 the Company set up a US subsidiary, Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC (SST-US) with facilities in Denver, Colorado to address the United States market and its customers for the provision of small satellite solutions, applications and services.

Headquartered in Guildford, UK, SSTL is owned by Astrium BV.

About Mars One

Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies. Mars One mission plan integrates components that are well tested and readily available from industry leaders worldwide. The first footprint on Mars and lives of the crew thereon will captivate and inspire generations; it is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars.

Notes to editor: 

This press release and accompanying images can be downloaded as a Word or Pdf document at the following url:

Press Contacts:

Joelle Sykes, PR Manager, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited

Tel: +44 (0)1483 804243 Email: 


Rosie Williams, bcm public relations

Tel: +44 (0)1306 882288 Email :


SpaceRef staff editor.