Press Release

SSTL confirms successful launch of VESTA

SSTL confirms successful launch of VESTA

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has confirmed the successful launch of VESTA, a 3U nanosatellite technology demonstration mission that will test a new two-way VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) payload developed by Honeywell for the ExactEARTH advanced maritime satellite constellation. The satellite was launched into a 575 km sun-synchronous orbit as part of Spaceflight’s SSO-A SmallSat Express Mission on board Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base on 3rd December 2018. 

Sarah Parker, Managing Director of SSTL said “I am delighted to confirm that our spacecraft operators here in Guildford have successfully made contact with VESTA and established that all initial systems checks are nominal.  I congratulate our customer Honeywell on a successful launch and I look forward to seeing mission results from this innovative small satellite in the near future.”

“While leading the way in demonstrating small data packet transfer from a small payload into remote maritime locations beyond our phone networks, this mission is also leading us into an even broader range of remote communication scenarios to increase the connectivity of our world.” said Chris Bee, a Business Manager at Honeywell Aerospace UK.

VESTA is a 3U nanosatellite technology demonstration mission that will test a new two-way VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) payload developed by Honeywell for the exactEarth advanced maritime satellite constellation.  The 4kg satellite has 3-axis pointing capability, an SEU tolerant on-board computer, VxWorks operating system and also flies a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) VHF deployable antenna system developed by Innovative Solutions in Space for the VDES transceiver.  VESTA will be operated in orbit by SSTL, with the payload data being downlinked directly in S-Band to Goonhilly Earth Station.

The development of VESTA was co-funded by the UK Space Agency through its National Space Technology Programme (NSTP) which stimulates the growth and development of the UK space sector through investing in technology development. The project was led by Honeywell.

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive, UK Space Agency said: “There are still areas of the Earth where communication remains difficult, none more so than out at sea. Satellites can bridge this gap, however testing new technology is risky and expensive. That’s why the UK Space Agency is helping to fund promising UK technologies like VESTA as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, to kick start innovation and growth, while delivering safety at sea and jobs back home.”

SSTL previously designed and supplied the exactView-1 satellite platform, launched in 2012, which forms part of the ExactEARTH AIS constellation used by ships and traffic to monitor ship movements through busy shipping channels and harbours and to provide information on global shipping movements.


Notes to editor: 

Full size accompanying images for this press release can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Press Contact:

Joelle Sykes, PR Manager, SSTL

Tel: +44 (0)1483 804243

Mob: 07775 000853


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, communications, navigation, in-orbit servicing and beyond Earth infrastructure. SSTL designs, manufactures and operates high performance satellites and ground systems for a fraction of the price normally associated with space missions, and employs 500 staff working on turnkey satellite platforms, space-proven satellite avionics, optical instruments and new mission concepts.

Since 1981, SSTL has built and launched more than 50 satellites for 20 international customers, as well as providing training and development programmes, consultancy services, and mission studies for ESA, NASA, international governments and commercial customers.  Our innovative approach is changing the economics of space.

Headquartered in Guildford, UK, SSTL is part of Airbus.


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VESTA 3U nanosatellite for Honeywell, 2018. Credit SSTL/Emily Kelly

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VESTA 3u nanosatellite for Honeywell, 2018. Credit SSTL/Emily Kelly

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