Magnolia to bloom in orbit

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has been awarded a contract for the study stage of a potential joint US-UK lunar orbiter mission called Magnolia.

The first part of the contract will run for nine months, at the end of which SSTL will produce a preliminary mission design. SSTL and Surrey University will also provide training to staff at Mississippi State University and NASA Stenis Space Center.

The next phase of the Magnolia mission, which will take place beyond low Earth orbit, is scheduled to start in 2008, with a possible launch in 2010.

In 2006, SSTL performed a lunar exploration design study for the government’s Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, which demonstrated the feasibility of low cost missions, such as MoonLITE and MoonRaker.

Guildford-based SSTL has more than 25 years experience in the design, manufacture and operation of high performance small satellites, and has so far launched 27 missions.