Press Release

SSTL’s low-cost radar satellite NovaSAR wins IET Innovation Award

By SpaceRef Editor
November 21, 2013
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Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is delighted to announce that its unique space-based S-band radar system, NovaSAR, has won an Innovation award for Navigation and Surveillance Communications from The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). 

NovaSAR, which won the IET award against four other finalists, is a ground-breaking, radar satellite system providing day/night and all-weather satellite imaging, primarily targeted at maritime surveillance applications. NovaSAR was developed through an intensive programme combining the expertise of SSTL on advanced small satellite platforms and radar payload skills from Astrium UK, resulting in a Synthetic Aperture Radar remote sensing service at about 20-25 per cent of the cost of more traditional systems. 

NovaSAR will be equipped with an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, and will be the first satellite to provide direct visual ship detection imagery simultaneously with AIS ship tracking data.  Combining radar imagery with AIS signals from NovaSAR will provide accurate data for identifying and tracking sea-going vessels, and will also assist with applications related to security, smuggling, piracy and oil discharge. 

Although primarily targeted at maritime surveillance, NovaSAR’s operational modes are optimised for monitoring the environment, including ice cover, iceberg monitoring, pollution and bathymetry. 

The joint SSTL and Astrium team attending the event were honoured to receive the award in front of a diverse range of skilled engineering and technology companies and academic departments.

Tony Holt, SSTL’s Engineering Director who collected the award at The Brewery in London, said: “The SSTL and Astrium team is thrilled that our joint efforts on NovaSAR have been recognised with this coveted award. As the first truly “low-cost” space radar system, NovaSAR will provide an innovative and affordable space system for the maritime domain.”

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 580 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.

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.