Airbus Defence and Space

EADS Airbus Defence and Space signs an agreement to acquire Surrey Satellite Technology Limited from the University of Surrey

Stevenage and Guildford – 7 April 2008: EADS Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space company, has entered into an agreement to acquire the innovative University of Surrey spin-out company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), which specialises in the design and manufacture of small and micro satellites. This landmark deal provides the financial and industrial resources required for SSTL’s expansion and future development. Completion of the acquisition is subject to obtaining the relevant regulatory approval.


  • Airbus Defence and Space backing to support Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) expansion and development
  • University of Surrey and Airbus Defence and Space agree new UK strategic academic collaboration

“In the UK we are renowned for our design and manufacture of telecommunications satellites, interplanetary spacecraft and satellite services provision. SSTL is one of the great success stories of the UK space industry and will be a substantial complement to what we can offer customers around the world with its expertise in small and micro satellites and their innovative approach to developing new markets for space,” said Colin Paynter, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space in the UK.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL, has been an active ambassador for the UK space industry for many years and considers the acquisition as essential: “SSTL operates in a highly competitive global market. If we are to continue changing the economics of space and provide the innovative solutions our customers demand we must expand and maintain our R&D investment. This acquisition strengthens SSTL enormously whilst preserving our unique approach to space.”

Professor Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey commented: “This is a great move for both the University and SSTL. On completion, this will represent one of the largest cash spin-outs from any UK university. It will also allow the Company to realise its full potential as a rapidly growing and leading supplier of small and micro satellites, whilst the University retains the benefit of close interaction with SSTL and its new partner Airbus Defence and Space. By retaining a small stake in SSTL the University shows its commitment to both the future of the Company and space research itself.”

SSTL is joining Airbus Defence and Space following a decision by the University of Surrey to sell its majority stake of circa 80% in the small satellite manufacturer. SSTL will remain an independent UK company with its individual brand and unique approach to space following the agreement, whilst benefiting from access to the resources of a large corporation including design, manufacturing and test facilities. Airbus Defence and Space will benefit from enhanced links with the University of Surrey to support staff training and development, also leading to greater cooperation and increased research on space technology and systems.

Airbus Defence and Space is one of the world’s leaders for its expertise in space transportation, spacecraft and satellite services including prime contractor for Ariane 5, the Columbus space laboratory and the Automated Transfer Vehicle for the International Space Station, and its leading-edge large and complex geostationary telecommunications satellites, and the Skynet 5 secure communications system for the UK Ministry of Defence. SSTL will complement Airbus Defence and Space’s existing space capabilities that include space transportation, satellites and services.

Under the share purchase agreement, SSTL will be owned by Airbus Defence and Space NV in the Netherlands. Completion of the transaction remains subject to approval by the relevant merger control authorities.

The agreement sees long-term research collaboration between the University of Surrey and Airbus Defence and Space and will further advance the University’s cutting edge space research capacity. The collaboration will also allow Airbus Defence and Space to benefit from staff training and development opportunities afforded by the links with the University. The sale will support the already-strong presence that Guildford and the south-east have in the aeronautical and space industries, creating a centre of expertise for space technology. This will allow for the region to benefit from the Government’s commitment to invest in the UK space industry.

Notes to Editors

About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2007, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €3.55 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, and Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment, and its wholly owned subsidiary Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services. In the UK, Airbus Defence and Space employs more than 2,500 space engineers, scientists and technicians.

AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2007, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €39.1 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116,000.

About SSTL

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) develops innovative technologies to change the economics of space, delivering cost effective satellite missions within rapid timescales. The Company is a recognized world leader in the design, manufacture and operation of high performance small satellites for the international market with experience gained over more than 25 years and 27 missions launched.

SSTL employs 270 staff working on LEO and interplanetary missions, turnkey satellite platforms and space-proven satellite subsystems and optical systems. The Company also provides know-how transfer and training programmes and consultancy services, and performs studies for ESA, NASA and commercial customers related to platform design, mission analysis and planning.

About the University of Surrey

The University of Surrey is one of the UK’s leading professional, scientific and technological universities with a world class research profile and a reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Ground-breaking research at the University is bringing direct benefit to all spheres of life – helping industry to maintain its competitive edge and creating improvements in the areas of health, medicine, space science, the environment, communications, defence and social policy. Programmes in science and technology have gained widespread recognition and it also boasts flourishing programmes in dance and music, social sciences, management and languages and law. In addition to the campus on 150 hectares just outside Guildford, Surrey, the University also owns and runs the Surrey Research Park, which provides facilities for 140 companies employing 2,700 staff.

The Sunday Times names Surrey as ‘The University for Jobs’ which underlines the university’s growing reputation for providing high quality, relevant degrees.

Supporting graphics for this press release can be downloaded from

Audio comment from Sir Martin Sweeting can be downloaded from

Audio interview with Professor Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive of the University of Surrey is available from


Airbus Defence and Space Media Contacts:

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Phone:  +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR) Phone: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Robert Klarner (Airbus Defence and Space GER) Phone:  +49 (0) 89 607 29821

SSTL Media Contacts:

Robin Wolstenholme Phone: +44 (0) 1 30 688 22 88

Stephen Ballard Phone: +44 (0) 1 30 688 22 88

University of Surrey Contacts:

Nick Bishop Phone: +44-(0) 20 7438 4916, Phone: +44-(0) 77 36 067 190

Peter La Phone:  +44 (0) 1 483 689191