August 19, 2008
British Satellite Company Opens Office in Douglas County
By Roger Fillion
A British company that builds small satellites has opened U.S. operations in Douglas County and plans to employ up to 250 people over the next few years.About three-quarters of those employees would work for Surrey Satellite Technology US in the Denver area, doing engineering and satellite manufacturing work.
The company has opened a small office in Douglas County and currently employs four.
It plans to build small communications and earth-observation satellites for commercial and government customers. The earth- observing satellites offer medium- to high-resolution imagery.
The company's British parent - Surrey Satellite Technology Limited - has been building satellites for commercial and government customers since 1981.
Airbus maker European Aeronautic Defence & Space recently agreed to acquire SSTL for an estimated $80 million to $100 million.
Based in the British town of Guilford, SSTL employs nearly 300. It has built 27 satellites to date. Customers have included the U.S. Air Force, NASA and businesses.
"What we're going to do is replicate the capability we have in Europe in the United States," said John Paffett, CEO of the U.S. unit.
He added that the company also plans to open an office in Washington, D.C., and possibly one in California.
Surrey Satellite Technology US aims to win over additional U.S. customers through its presence here.
Company officials said they chose the Denver area because of the state's large space industry work force as well as the many companies involved in the remote sensing industry, including commercial spy satellite companies DigitalGlobe and GeoEye.
The state also is home to several military facilities. Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, for example, is home to satellite monitoring and communications equipment.
"This area has always been the remote sensing capital of the United States," said Kevin Little, director of business development for Surrey Satellite Technology US.
The company expects to hire engineers and program managers.
Its satellites typically weigh less than 2,200 pounds. Five of the company's earth-observing satellites are scheduled to be launched aboard a single rocket later this month by a German company, RapidEye AG.
Originally published by Roger Fillion, Rocky Mountain News.
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