SpaceX Launches VESTA Maritime Communications Satellite

December 5, 2018

Honeywell’s Space Team in Aylesbury, England are celebrating the launch of the VESTA nanosatellite, which the team worked as Mission Prime for Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) on behalf of the UK Space Agency. This small satellite is a significant achievement for Honeywell’s UK Space Team and the wider Honeywell Space organization as it demonstrates solid capabilities in the delivery of rapid-build, cost-efficient solutions in the smallsat market.

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.

VESTAAbove: Members of the Aylesbury Space Team pose with VESTA

“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, Business Manager at Honeywell Aerospace in Aylesbury.

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive, UK Space Agency said: “There are still vast 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.”

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 SSTL 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 satellite will increase safety and security in commercial shipping through better data exchange and communication between ship and shore entities, while enabling a wider, seamless data exchange for the maritime community. Applications include: weather data, ice maps, security/piracy notices, engine management reports, crew welfare and more.

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.

Above: Drawing of VESTA unfurled

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