A plaque celebrating one of Princess Anne’s visits last week may not be out of this world, but by this time next year, it will be!
The Princess was visiting Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and was welcomed by the Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey, Major-General Tim Sulivan before being given a tour of the facility by Executive Chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting and CEO, Patrick Wood. During her tour, Princess Anne unveiled the plaque to commemorate her visit, this forms part of the mechanical structure of one of the company’s satellites that will be launched into space during 2017.
Sir Martin Sweeting commented: “I am delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness and our other distinguished guests today. SSTL has been based in Guildford on the University Research Park for over 30 years and is an example of the powerful synergy between academic research and commercial exploitation that has resulted in a world-leading company pioneering small satellites that are used for improving agriculture, disaster monitoring, navigation and communications. Guildford has a thriving business community and strong transport links.”
The guided tour included visits to the Assembly, Integration and Test Hall where sixteen spacecraft are currently under construction. The company works with both NASA and ESA as well as many other international organisations, since its inception in 1981 it has launched nearly fifty satellites.
One of the satellites the Princess saw was the NovaSAR-S, a low-cost radar satellite which has been part-funded by the UK Government and which is due to launch early next year.
The company’s work is not only the building of spacecraft and satellites, the Princess was also given a guided tour of London using an interactive visual display from one of SSTL’s satellites. She then concluded her tour by visiting the Spacecraft Operations Centre. This hub operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year keeping in secure contact with the orbiting satellites via a network of ground stations spread across the globe.
As the United Kingdom is looking for new and emerging markets following the decision to leave, and also encouraging students to enter careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, it is nice to see the visits of the Royal family are identifying the success of companies across Great Britain in these sectors.