The last week of September sees a celebration of two impressive SSTL milestones. On the 26th September 1993 we launched PoSAT-1 and HealthSat-2 into orbit. PoSAT-1, (see main pic), was an earth observation and technology demonstration mission and Portugal's very first satellite, sent into space from the Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana. It carried two imagers, one with a wide field of view with 2 km ground resolution, the second narrow field imager provided 200m ground resolution. It also carried a Cosmic Ray Experiment and a Digital Signal Processing Experiment.

HealthSat-2 (see pic below with SSTL's Alex Da Silva conducting a solar array test) also took off into space 30 years ago today. It was a special satellite designed for sending medical messages, using low-cost ground stations. HealthSat-2 joined HealthSat-1 (UoSAT-3) as the second SSTL microsatellite in the HealthNet global communications system of SatelLife, a U.S. non-profit organization. HealthNet provided desperately needed low cost 'last mile' communication links between medical institutions and health programmes in the developing world.


One day later - on the 27th September - we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launch for a trio of satellites - ​BILSAT-1, NigeriaSat-1 and UK DMC-1. The trio were the first generation of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation, launched from Plesetsk Kosmodrome in Russia​, aboard a COSMOS-3M launcher. (Satellites pictured below.)


BILSAT-1 was the first Turkish Scientific Earth Observation satellite and was built under a training and development programme between SSTL and TUBITAK-BILTEN. The satellite benefited from on-board propulsion, GPS navigation and included experimental payloads including a multi-band imaging system, a real time image compression module, a GPS attitude receiver, and a Control Moment Gyro. BILSAT-1 also hosted new technologies such as high-capacity solid-state data recorders and star trackers.

NigeriaSat-1 was built under a training and transfer programme with the Nigeria Space Research & Development Agency, providing 32m multispectral imaging with a 600km wide swath. The imaging system was fitted with normalised differential vegetative index (NDVI) technology capable of giving early warning signals of natural and environmental disasters.

UK-DMC-1 was an earth observation satellite for the then BNSC (now the UK Space Agency). It carried a 32m imager operating in 3 spectral bands. UK-DMC-1 carried experimental payloads including the CLEO Cisco router which demonstrated the first use of the Interplanetary Internet v6 in space, an experiment demonstrating GNSS reflectometry, and a water resistojet propulsion system.