SNAP-1 is a British nanosatellite in low Earth orbit.[2][3] The satellite was built at the Surrey Space Centre by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) and members of the University of Surrey. It was launched on 28 June 2000 on board a Kosmos-3M rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.[4] It shared the launch with a Russian Nadezhda search and relay spacecraft and the Chinese Tsinghua-1 microsatellite.

Mission typeTechnology
OperatorSSTL / University of Surrey
COSPAR ID2000-033C[1]
SATCAT no.26386Edit this on Wikidata
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerSSTL / University of Surrey
Launch mass6.5 kilograms (14 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date28 June 2000, 12:13:00 (2000-06-28UTC12:13Z) UTC
Launch sitePlesetsk 132/1
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude666 kilometres (414 mi)
Apogee altitude682 kilometres (424 mi)
Inclination98.1 deg
Period98.2 minutes


The objectives of the SNAP-1 mission were to:[2]

  • Develop and prove a modular commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) based nanosatellite bus.
  • Evaluate new manufacturing techniques and technologies.
  • Image the Tsinghua-1 microsatellite during its deployment (timed to occur a few seconds after the deployment of SNAP-1).
  • Demonstrate the systems required for future nanosatellite constellations. For example: three-axis attitude control, Global Positioning System (GPS) based orbit determination, and orbital manoeuvres.
  • Depending on propellant availability, rendezvous with Tsinghua-1 and demonstrate formation flying.

During deployment, SNAP-1 successfully imaged the Nadezhda and Tsinghua-1 satellites that accompanied it on the launch.[5][6][7] Once in orbit, SNAP-1 achieved three axis attitude control,[8] then demonstrated its orbital maintenance capability using its butane cold gas propulsion system.[9]


The 6.5 kilograms (14 lb) SNAP-1 satellite contained the following modules:[10]

  • Power System[11]
  • VHF Receiver
  • S-band Transmitter[12]
  • Attitude and Orbit Control System (AOCS)[8]
  • Cold-Gas Propulsion (CGP) System[9]
  • On-Board Computer (OBC)
  • VHF spread-spectrum communications payload
  • UHF inter-satellite link
  • Machine Vision System (MVS)[5][6]


  1. ^ NASA, "SPACEWARN Bulletin", Number 560, 1 July 2000
  2. ^ a b C Underwood, G Richardson, J Savignol, "In-orbit results from the SNAP-1 nanosatellite and its future potential", Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society, 2003
  3. ^ P Fortescue, J Stark, G Swinerd, "Spacecraft Systems Engineering", Third Edition, Wiley - Section 18.7, pages 597-599
  4. ^ "SSTL satellites launched on board Cosmos 3M booster", Flight International 4–10 July 2000, page 22
  5. ^ a b R Lancaster, "An optical remote inspection system for the Surrey Nanosatellite Applications Program", University of Surrey MSc thesis, 2001
  6. ^ a b R Lancaster, C Underwood, "The SNAP-1 Machine Vision System", 14th AIAA / USU Conference on Small Satellites, 2000
  7. ^ "SpaceFlight News", Flight International 17–23 October 2000, page 33
  8. ^ a b W H Steyn, Y Hashida, "In-Orbit Attitude Performance of the 3-Axis Stabilised SNAP-1 Nanosatellite", 15th AIAA / USU Conference on Small Satellites, 2001
  9. ^ a b D Gibbon, C Underwood, "Low Cost Butane Propulsion Systems for Small Spacecraft", 15th AIAA / USU Conference on Small Satellites, 2001
  10. ^ C Underwood, G Richardson, J Savignol, "SNAP-1: A Low Cost Modular COTS-Based Nano-Satellite – Design, Construction, Launch and Early Operations Phase", 15th AIAA / USU Conference on Small Satellites, 2001
  11. ^ C Clark, K Hall, "Power System Design and Performance on the World’s Most Advanced In-Orbit Nanosatellite", 6th European Space Power Conference, Porto, Portugal May 2002
  12. ^ Z Wahl, K Walker, J Ward, "Modular and Reusable Miniature Subsystems for Small Satellites: An Example Describing Surrey’s Nanosatellite S-Band Downlink", 14th AIAA / USU Conference on Small Satellites, 2000