Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd (GES) have recently announced a new partnership to go beyond Earth’s orbit and provide a new model of low cost, high value space exploration and science. Aiming to support a Solar System network, the SSTL-GES Lunar Pathfinder mission and its successors will provide a system to transport payloads, along with communication links, to the Moon and bring any other deployed assets back to Earth.
The mission supports the international development and exploration of space, providing new opportunities to transport commercial payloads to lunar orbit.
Sir Martin Sweeting, SSTL’s Executive Chairman, comments on its significance, “Affordable transport of space assets to lunar orbit and communications of these assets with Earth are a common barrier to the international development and exploration of our local solar system - the Lunar Pathfinder missions will provide the low cost support infrastructure that allows customers to focus on the science and business aspects of their missions.”
The SSTL-GES Lunar Pathfinder team is already working on the initial baseline design, with technical assistance from the European Space Agency (ESA). SSTL is designing a series of lunar communication satellites and is building on its heritage of small satellite platforms in Low Earth orbit and Medium Earth orbit to go beyond Earth’s orbit for the first time. GES is upgrading one of the famous antennas at the Goonhilly site in Cornwall, UK, into a deep space ground asset, which will be the first element in a commercial deep space network.