Luis Gomes Keynote: “Changing the Economics of Space: Small Spacecraft and COTS Electronics”

Space was for many years the domain of the Space Agency and large companies, the only ones thatcould afford the immense cost of planning, designing, building and launching satellites. But access to space has gone through a revolution in the last 10 years. The seeds of this “revolution” were originally sowed in the late 1970s and early 80s, when a handful of engineers and radio amateurs started to build cheap small satellites using Commercial Of The Shelf (COTS) electronics rather than extremely expensive space rated electronics. Originally seen as toys or curiosities, these small, low cost satellites have come of age in the past 10 years and are now taking over the roles of the traditional larger spacecraft. Their low cost allows constellations of these satellites to be built at lower prices than their single expensive predecessors, not only replacing them, but also allowing a completely new range of applications. Constellations of 10s and 100s of satellites for Earth Observation, telecommunications, meteorology, etc. are currently being developed and should be operational in the coming few years.

Speaker Biography

Luís Gomes

Luis Gomes Photo

Luis Gomes joined Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in 1997 after gaining his degree in Physics and working for a few years in the PoSAT-1 mission and in SAR raw data processing. He started as a Mission Analysis Engineer, being responsible for thermal design at SSTL until 2003. In the meantime he worked on the mission design and analysis of several missions, and run internal and external studies on the use of small satellites for a range of applications then being performed by large satellites. He also completed an MSc in Satellite Engineering, spending time doing research on the effects of spacecraft charging on small spacecraft. He was the system engineer and AIT lead for the Bilsat-1 mission, launched in 2003 and took over the Project Management of the DMC+4 mission at the end of that same year. That mission, launched in 2005, was at the time the most sophisticated SSTL EO mission. He was responsible for the later NigeriaSat-2 programme, running the project until 2008, when he took over the responsibility for the EO business line at SSTL. In that role, he started and guided the development of the S1 high resolution platform, that later led to the DMC3 constellation, and following on from a long standing interest in SAR, he started the NovaSAR project, securing the support from the UK government for that mission. In 2011, he took over the role of Director of Earth Observation and Science. He continues to pursue his interest in using small spacecraft to change the economics of space, driving the introduction in 2013, of the X-series of spacecraft offering smaller, more capable spacecraft for a lower price.