Category Archives: News

Surrey Satellite Firm Set For Lift Off From India

A British-built radar satellite which will provide a host of benefits to life on Earth will launch into space this evening (Sunday 16 September) from India

Artist's impression of NovaSAR satellite. Credit: SSTL

Artist’s impression of NovaSAR satellite. Credit: SSTL

Watch the launch live

NovaSAR-1, designed and built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) in Guildford, will be able to see through clouds and image the world night and day.

The new spacecraft from SSTL will offer low cost remote imaging to global customers including the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

SSTL is a great British success story, which already has 40% of the world’s small satellite export market.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said:

The data from this satellite, backed by a £21 million investment from the Government, will help innovative start-ups develop new apps that could revolutionise the way we live.

It’s a great example of how we are working with the space sector through our modern Industrial Strategy, ensuring we remain at the forefront of pioneering science and exploration.

The UK is a world leader in Earth Observation technologies which have an increasing number of down to Earth applications, including through the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP). This programme harnesses the expertise of the British space sector to tackle problems all around the world, from predicting dengue fever outbreaks in Vietnam to improving healthcare in Nigeria through satellite connectivity.

There is also a significant commercial opportunity, with Earth Observation satellite services estimated to support industries representing a total turnover of more than £235 billion.

Since 1981, SSTL has built and launched more than 50 satellites for 20 international customers including in Europe, USA and Canada – as well as providing training and development programmes, consultancy services, and mission studies for ESA, NASA, international governments and commercial customers.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox recently launched the Department for International Trade’s first space exports campaigns to target opportunities initially in the US and India.

The ‘Space Exports’ campaign will see 2 of the world’s fastest growing markets targeted with trade missions. In India the Department for International Trade (DIT) will also increase its operation by recruiting British space sector experts to work in market.

Minister of State for the Department for International Trade, Baroness Fairhead, said:

SSTL is a fantastic example of how UK innovation and engineering can have a global impact. It is clear that our space industry is thriving, resulting in significant growth which reinforces the UK’s reputation as a leader in the sector.

Overseas sales are vital to sustaining this growth, and our recently launched Export Strategy outlines the support available to companies to help them fulfil their exporting potential. I would encourage companies that are looking to follow in SSTL’s footsteps to make use of financial support from UK Export Finance and the extensive export opportunities that are listed on

The UK Space Agency has invested £21 million in the development of NovaSAR-1 and will benefit from access to data from the spacecraft, significantly boosting the UK’s sovereign Earth observation capabilities and leveraging additional inward investment to the UK by creating highly skilled jobs in the UK space industry.

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:

This exciting new satellite, with its powerful imaging radar system and compact design, has been developed and built in the UK, and will provide a host of benefits for applications including the detection of oil spills, flood monitoring and agriculture.

The Government wants the UK to thrive in the commercial space age as part of the modern Industrial Strategy. This mission demonstrates SSTL’s world leading skills and the exciting potential for further growth in our sector.

The satellite is due to launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India at 17:37 (BST).

NovaSAR-1 was designed and manufactured by SSTL, with an S-Band SAR payload developed by Airbus Defence and Space in Portsmouth and an Automatic Identification Receiver supplied by Honeywell Aerospace.

PM Call With Prime Minister Khan

Prime Minister Theresa May spoke with Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan today

10 Downing Street

10 Downing Street

A Downing Street spokesperson said:

The Prime Minister spoke to the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday.

The Prime Minister congratulated him on his party’s success in Pakistan’s elections and on his new position.

They agreed to work together to build on the good relations between the UK and Pakistan in a wide range of areas, including security cooperation, anti-corruption, and bilateral trade.

Prime Minister Theresa May noted the importance of Pakistan delivering on its commitments to strengthen institutions responsible for upholding the rule of law, and to advance the rights of women and minorities.

They looked forward to meeting in person soon.

UK Government Extends 24-Hour Visa Service To Pune And Bengaluru

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has today announced an extension of the Super Priority Visa service (SPV) to Pune and Bengaluru, meaning that more Indians can get a visa decision in 24 hours or less

UK Visa

UK Visa

SPV is an optional service for customers in India who need to travel to the UK urgently. Pune and Bengaluru add to the three locations this service is already offered – Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai.

SPV applications are assessed to exactly the same high standard as all other applications but are handled by UKVI at the highest priority, with dedicated staff members processing cases at the front of the queue and an express courier service ensuring quick return to the customer. This means that the 24-hour turnaround is achievable and secure.   Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes said:

I am pleased that the Super Priority Visa service is being extended to even more Indian cities, giving many more UK visa customers the opportunity to receive a visa decision in 24 hours or less if needed.

India was the first country in the world to receive this service in 2013 – and is once again leading the way as two more cities – Pune and Bengaluru – receive this first class visa service.

This is further proof of the strength of the UK-India relationship and of the focus by UKVI on providing a convenient, world-class experience for Indian visa applicants.

The extension of this service aims to support the UK-India Technology Partnership, which will include establishing ‘tech clusters’ in these strategically important cities. This brings the total number of locations Indian nationals can use the SPV service to five, supporting the ‘Living Bridge’ between our two countries and facilitating the movement of talent in key sectors.

This announcement is part of a wider package of measures from UKVI as it seeks to transform and improve the visa service, including greater use of digital technology and additional optional services for customers to tailor and improve their experience.

British Deputy High Commission To Host Commonwealth Big Lunch In Mumbai

British Deputy High Commission along with other Commonwealth Diplomatic Missions in Mumbai to bat for renewed ties through a T20 cricket match

Commonwealth Big Lunches

Commonwealth Big Lunches

The British Deputy High Commission will host a friendly Commonwealth cricket match in Mumbai at the Police Gymkhana, Marine Lines on Saturday, 7 April 2018. Organised with support of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) and other diplomatic missions, it celebrates the Commonwealth, shared values and connections through food.

With cricket being a widely played game among many countries of the Commonwealth, this friendly match in Mumbai as part of the Commonwealth Big Lunch aims to invoke sporting spirit, camaraderie and renewed ties.

Using the T20 format and a mixed gender team, the players from the assortment of diplomatic missions representing Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom will compete with veterans and former players from the MCA in this friendly match.

The invited guests will be from among our network of Commonwealth scholars, the Queen’s Young Leader award winners, Chevening scholars and other diplomatic contacts.

The gathering in Mumbai is one of many Commonwealth Big Lunches happening across the 53 Commonwealth nations from 12 March – Commonwealth Day – until Sunday 22 April.

Launched by the Eden Project in partnership with the UK government, thousands of people from across the Commonwealth are coming together to celebrate, discover and share their Commonwealth links, stories and experiences with one another over a shared meal and activity.


Lunches are being held ahead of and during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018. Unfolding over five days, leaders and foreign ministers from up to 53 countries and over 2,000 delegates will gather in London and Windsor, UK from 16 to 20 April to discuss and agree how to work together to address shared global challenges.

Crispin Simon the British Deputy High Commissioner for Western India, the Director General of the Department for International Trade, India and South Asia said:

With cricket as a unifying game, we want to bring people and communities together to celebrate a sense of common purpose. The aim of this year’s CHOGM, ‘Towards a Common Future’ signifies just that. It will be another great opportunity to appreciate and strengthen the connections we’ve got to each other and to keep alive the relevance of the Commonwealth.

Peter Stewart MVO, Executive Director of the Eden Project said:

From Commonwealth Day onwards, we’ve been encouraging people to come together to share friendship, food and fun with people where they live. The celebration is one of many taking place across 6 continents which is just phenomenal!

Commonwealth Big Lunches bring people together, show the diversity we all have and importantly celebrate the commonality we all share which showcases the true spirit of the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Big Lunches were inspired by and build on the Eden Project’s annual Big Lunch, which was launched in 2009 as a way to connect people with their communities over a shared meal.

Her Majesty The Queen Recognises Pakistani Volunteer With Commonwealth Points Of Light Award

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has recognised Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib, of Pakistan as the 31st Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of his exceptional voluntary service creating Pakistan’s largest micro-finance organisation that is benefiting hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged people

The British High Commissioner Thomas Drew presenting Commonwealth Point of Light award to Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib

The British High Commissioner Thomas Drew presenting Commonwealth Point of Light award to Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib

In the lead-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London on 19-20 April, Her Majesty The Queen – as Head of the Commonwealth – is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 53 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond.

By sharing these stories of service, the Heads of Government meeting will celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth and help inspire others to make their own contribution to tackling some of the greatest social challenges of our time.

Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib is the founder of ‘Akhuwat’, the largest micro-finance organisation in Pakistan, which provides interest-free loans to disadvantaged people so they can develop sustainable incomes. Since its inception in 2001, Amjad has opened 700 branches in 350 cities across Pakistan, enabling over 600,000 people to become self-reliant.

The charity has provided more than £345 million interest free loans while retaining a recovery rate of 99.96%, with all operational costs covered by donations. The charity also supports education initiatives, including ‘Akhuwat College’, which opened in 2015 and provides a residential facility for students who cannot afford quality education, and ‘Akhuwat University’, which will open in November 2018 as Pakistan’s first free university, supporting over 600 students.

The Commonwealth Point of Light award includes a personalised certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. The award for Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib was presented today by Thomas Drew CMG, UK High Commissioner in Pakistan.

Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib said:

Poverty is poison. Poverty is pain. We need to rise together and make a concerted effort to reduce poverty and make this world a happy place to live in. Thanks to the Commonwealth and Points of Light for recognizing ‘Akhuwat’ and our effort for this great mission.

The British High Commissioner Thomas Drew said:

I am delighted to present Dr Muhammad Amjad Saqib with the Commonwealth Point of Light award for his exceptional voluntary service that has benefitted hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged people.

Her Majesty The Queen has recognised Dr Saqib as Pakistan’s Point of Light for delivering a significant impact on the lives of others. He has shown an innovative approach to a social challenge and has inspired others to make a positive change within and beyond their communities.

The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 53 nations that work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace. The Heads of Government meeting will bring together leaders from all the 53 Member countries to reaffirm common values, address shared global challenges and agree how to work to create a better future for all citizens, especially young people.

Voluntary service is a vital part of this agenda, which is why Her Majesty The Queen has chosen to recognise outstanding volunteers across the Commonwealth in this special way.

For more information, please contact Andrew Cuff:

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