Technology

DSTL To Show 'Satellite Operation Capability'

It will be the first time in nearly 20 years that a Government-owned and operated ground station will communicate with a satellite.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) is to demonstrate its "satellite operation capability" next month.

Using its relocatable ground station, DSTL will receive data from multiple commercial satellites - the first time a Government-owned and operated ground station will communicate with a satellite in nearly 20 years.

Mike O'Callaghan, DSTL's Space Programme Manager, said "space is increasingly recognised as a critical domain” for both the “maintenance of the UK and global security".

"DSTL's  growing capability will support the MOD in enabling freedom of action in future operations for the UK and its allies," he said.

The demonstration will provide control of two low-Earth orbit satellites to the DSTL ground station for tasking, validation and verification purposes.

Air Vice Marshal Hav Smyth, Ministry of Defence Director Space, said the demonstration is "extremely important for defence".

"DSTL and the Space Directorate are working closer than ever before as we take forward an ambitious space [research and development] programme," he said.

"The experiences gained from initiatives such as this help enormously to underpin our space capability planning for the future."

Lessons learned from the demonstration will be used as DSTL looks to lead a number of space and ground demonstrator missions in the future.

This month, the Chief of the Air Staff said access to space is "fundamental" to national security.

"Air and space power gives our government the ability to act worldwide, at range, at speed, precisely, and with minimal physical and political risk – we play a decisive role in keeping the UK safe 24/7," Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston said.

Cover image: A satellite at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (Dstl) in Porton Downs (Picture: DSTL).