Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

SSETI Express sets off

14.07.2005


SSETI Express, the first spacecraft to be designed and built by European students, has set off on the first stage of its journey into space. It left ESTEC in the Netherlands yesterday and is now on its way to Plesetsk, the Russian cosmodrome from where it will be launched on 25 August.




Its journey to Russia will take considerably longer than its journey into space. It left ESTEC, ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands, by special truck yesterday afternoon and arrived at Hahn airport near Frankfurt this morning. The next step of its journey will take place tomorrow, when it is sent by cargo plane to Moscow.

Before it can continue its journey by special military plane to Plesetsk, in the Archangel region of Russia, it has to be cleared through customs. The cargo is classed as ’dangerous goods’ because the spacecraft’s pressure management system contains pyrotechnics and both the spacecraft and its payload contain batteries.


Students do not have much longer to wait, however, for their ‘baby’ to be launched into low-Earth Sun synchronous orbit, 686 km above the Earth. Liftoff, by a Cosmos 3M launcher, is scheduled for 09:52 local Moscow time (07:52 CEST) on Thursday 25 August. Then will follow another anxious interval as students wait for the acquisition of the first signals from SSETI Express. Spacecraft operations are planned to begin in early September.

In just 18 months, 15 teams of students, from 10 universities in nine countries have managed to design, build and test SSETI Express. It has not always been easy and students have worked nights, weekends and in their holidays to complete the project.

“The spacecraft is a credit to each and every one of the dozens of student and radio amateurs involved in its design, development, integration and testing. We are all very excited about the upcoming flight,” says Neil Melville, Project Manager for SSETI Express.

SSETI Express is a small spacecraft, similar in size and shape to a washing machine. Weighing about 62 kg it has a payload of 24 kg. On board the student-built spacecraft will be three pico-satellites, extremely small satellites that weigh around 1 kg each. These will be deployed once SSETI Express is in orbit, marking a first not only for the students but also for the space sector.

“The primary objective of SSETI Express has already been met many times over; the educational value of this experience is vast and I’m sure the benefits will be felt not only by the many students working on this project but also in future SSETI, and related, projects throughout Europe,” added Melville.

The spacecraft is not only an educational achievement - SSETI Express will be a fully operational satellite. As well as launching the CubeSat pico-satellites it will take pictures of the Earth, function as a radio transponder for the global amateur radio community, and act as a test-bed and technology demonstrator for the even more adventurous student spacecraft planned for the future. In 2008 ESEO, a European Student Earth Orbiter, will be launched. To be followed by a European Student Moon Orbiter sometime between 2010 and 2012.

Despite difficulties and setbacks, by 11 April this year the spacecraft was fully integrated at ESTEC and ready for testing. Before ESA experts could declare SSETI Express ‘space-worthy’ the spacecraft underwent protoflight three-axis sinusoidal, quasi-static and random vibration tests; thermal vacuum tests including bake-out and four thermal cycles, electromagnetic compatibility tests and extensive testing of all the spacecraft’s functions. By 27 June it was declared ready for flight.

As the students quickly learnt, however, not all the work needed to prepare a satellite goes on in laboratories. Legal aspects have to be considered, public relations are important and administrative work is vital.

According to Marie de Cock, SSETI Programme Coordinator at ESA: “Packing, shipping, insuring and preparing for customs has been much more complex than we expected and is an aspect of a space mission that we had not really foreseen, nor did we realise its importance. Still, we have all learnt from this experience and we will be ready for future missions”.

Now all the students have to do is wait – anxiously – for liftoff. Just three students and one radio amateur can take part in the launch campaign at Plesetsk: Jõrg Schaefer from Germany, responsible for system engineering and flight safety; Karl Kaas Laursen from Denmark, responsible for checkout and preparation of on-board computer, attitude control, camera and CubeSat passengers; and Sascha Tietz from Germany responsible for checkout and preparation of propulsion, instrument control and CubeSat deployment tubes. They will be joined by Graham Shirville, a radio amateur from the UK, who will ensure that both communications systems and the test ground station are ready.

The rest of the SSETI Express team will watch a live transmission of the launch at specially organised events in their home countries. It will be a nail-biting but once in a lifetime moment. As student Karl Kaas Laursen says, “We will be waiting to see if we have built something that can survive anything – the launch and the harsh space environment. SSETI Express will do it, just watch...”

Philippe Willekens | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMPQH6DIAE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Innovative LED High Power Light Source for UV
22.06.2017 | Omicron - Laserage Laserprodukte GmbH

nachricht Spin liquids − back to the roots
22.06.2017 | Universität Augsburg

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>