Satcoms Innovation Group Awards 2020

The SIG Board of Directors has carefully considered the nominations for the SIG Awards 2020 before concluding this year’s winners. With a fine-tooth comb the Board has scrutinised each nomination – and it must be said that the calibre of competition was extremely high. We would like to thank you all for your participation. Without further ado, here are your winners: 


Innovation of the Year – QuadSAT 

QuadSAT has developed an innovative and industry tailored test method which uses advanced drone technology, coupled with advances in microwave technology to revolutionise antenna testing. Currently, an antenna needs to be brought to a test-range for testing. The system provides high-precision off and on-axis measurements and wide varieties of testing scenarios for antenna manufacturers, onsite after new installations, and satellite operators alike. QuadSAT has developed a portable and location independent drone-based far-field test range that is deployed on site where it flies in front of the antenna at its location. This increased access to test-data will be a valuable tool for ensuring an efficient future for SATCOM. 

Educational Project of the Year – 1st – Te Pūnaha Ātea Auckland Space Institute 

The Auckland Programme for Space Systems is an educational enrichment programme offered to undergraduate students at The University of Auckland. The APSS is part of the University’s Te Pūnaha Ātea Auckland Space Institute. 

Each year, students are invited to submit a competition entry to design, build and operate a 1U CubeSat. The mission needs to be of benefit to New Zealand society and stakeholders and be realisable in a 1U CubeSat form factor. The first CubeSat from this programme, APSS-I, is awaiting launch on Rocket Lab’s SSO Rideshare mission. 

By placing the satellite ground segment communications as a priority area in their research and educational satellite programme means that, each year, dozens of students are exposed to the requirements, challenges and rewards of satellite communication practice and research.

Cooperation Award- QuadSAT and ESA / GVF 

QuadSAT collaborated with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) to ensure that its Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) testing solution would comply with industry-wide antenna performance protocol, SOMAP (Satellite Operators’ Minimum Antenna Performance requirements). This has allowed QuadSat to establish that its UAS testing capabilities can measure the parameters of SOMAP requirements within satellite communications. 

Young Engineer of the Year- James Pester, Shaftesbury School 

James demonstrated a drive and eagerness to pursue an engineering career after his experience with STEAM activities. He sought out the necessary contacts and procedures to joining Airbus on leaving school on his own initiative. Through working with the schools STEAM projects, Colem sponsored for the key STEAM students of the school to visit Airbus in Portsmouth to see how satellites are built and find out how a large corporation works. That signalled the beginning of James Pester’s new adventure in aerospace. 

Lifetime Achievement Award – Martin Coleman 

Martin has been relentless in his pursuit of improving the space industry for all operators over a period of decades. Five decades in fact. Without Martin’s tireless efforts since taking on the role of Executive Director of SIG (at the time SUIRG and later IRG), SIG would not be what it is today. His drive, his motivation and his vision has ensured that SIG’s efforts will remain relevant for years into the future. He also inspires everyone he comes into contact with and always makes time to help others with their own careers. 

A few words from others in the industry:

Nigel Fry, BBC:

“Many congratulations on celebrating 50 years of delivering communications to the World! We greatly appreciated the platform that you gave us, BBC World Service, to counter the effects of intentional interference to our DTH services. You connected us to a community of amazing individuals, clever, resourceful and supportive. Will never forget us working together with Dick Tauber one evening in a hotel bar in Tunis, to produce the ASBU action plan on interference. A great career, a great community of colleagues and friends and very many achievements of which you should be very proud.” 

Ruben Marentes, Intelsat:

“It was several years ago that I had the chance to meet a very sophisticated, very elegant, with the stereotype presence of a English Man and graceful person…until he opened his mouth..

Then I got to learn from the legendary (already famous from what Patty Constantino told me before I met him) : Martin Coleman. A charismatic, charm, down to earth and very eloquent Engineer.

I appreciate the guidance and the relentless discussions about reducing interference. I know several names and companies were used but at the end of the day his battle was against a harmful enemy of satellite communications and despite the overwhelming odds the fight was on. It was not about a sector or segment; it was a battle to defend a technology that has provided so much to so many…

That’s is the legacy of Martin Coleman….

It is not about reducing RFI. It was not about sorting corporate interests and try to unite them in a single front. It is about the character and the drive of a single individual that having the chance to do anything else he chose to pursue a challenging project…not because it was easy but because it was hard.

That is what I will remember of Martin Coleman…

After 50 year of operating in the spectrum (I would not be surprise if Martin glows in the dark after so much exposure to RF). Martin has reached a milestone where he can watch others take on and move forward. However, the shadow provided by his contributions is vast and create a paved environment for new individuals to shine and continue his legacy in all fronts.”

Buzz Merrill

“Martin is a wonderful person. His technical accomplishments in satellite communication have been excellent and have changed the industry in many ways as is known by many experts. More than that is the fact that he loves people and is a natural leader who has inspired many people to do great things. The combination of his technical and personal contributions is unmatched in the space community and has produced many important results that others could not achieve.”

Entries were judged by the SIG Directors and Board Members, where no conflict of interest arises.

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