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 From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>