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Aalto-1 satellite integrated into the dispenser in Delft in the Netherlands

When the last tests have been completed, Aalto-1 will continue its journey to the launch site of the Falcon 9 rocket on the west coast of the USA.

Aalto-1 satellite has now been integrated into the dispenser. The dispenser will later be installed inside the nose cone of the launch vehicle.

The satellite has been built and tested in Otaniemi for almost five years. The last remaining tests will be carried out in the Netherlands.

‘The satellite is a complicated and sensitive device that has been assembled in a cleanroom. Before Aalto-1 left Otaniemi, all humidity was removed from it and the satellite was packed extra safely for transport. That is how we could ensure that the satellite would not carry any extra substances that could cause problems to the satellite or the rocket,’ says Jaan Praks, Professor at Aalto University and the leader of the project.

In the clean room of the company Innovative Space in the Netherlands, the satellite was integrated into the dispenser in which it will be transported into space together with other small satellites.  The Aalto-1 team, Antti Kestilä, Tuomas Tikka and Nemanja Jovanović, were on the location in the Netherlands to perform the last checks on the satellite’s systems. Later in the United States, the dispenser and the integrated satellites will be fixed to the SHERPA system, which will enable the transportation of several satellites in the same rocket. The SHERPA system and the dozens of satellites it will carry will be attached to the Falcon 9 rocket later in June or July.

The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket is due in July, but delays are not uncommon in this field.

‘Our work will not end with the launch, as the satellite will start scientific measurements as soon as it has reached space. The mission and the measurements will be steered from Otaniemi for an estimated period of two years,’ Praks says.

Tuomas Tikka from the Aalto-1 team performing the last
checks on the satellite before it is placed inside the dispenser.

Nanosatellite a masterpiece by students

Aalto-1 is a modern nanosatellite based on the CubeSat standard and contains state-of-the-art technology from Finland. The satellite carries three research devices: an imaging spectrometer built by VTT, a radiation monitor jointly constructed by the Universities of Helsinki and Turku and a plasma brake developed by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, which is based on the principle of an electric solar sail and aimed at reducing the amount of space debris.

More than 80 students have taken part in the project and dozens of related master's and bachelor's theses, many conference publications and scientific publications have been completed. Students have designed the satellite as a whole and several of its subsystems, for example the radios, framework, antennas and the solar panels, which provide the electricity needed for the satellite. The brain of the satellite, i.e. the main computer, will transmit all necessary information from space to the ground station in Otaniemi via a radio link.

Aalto-2 satellite is the next satellite waiting to be launched. Aalto-2 is also a CubeSat satellite produced as a project by students of Space Technology at Aalto University. The development of Aalto-2 began in 2012. It is part of the European QB50 project, which aims to launch 50 CubeSat satellites to Low Earth Orbit.

More information:
Jaan Praks, Professor, leader of the project
Aalto University
[email protected]

tel. +358 50 420 5847
[email protected]

More detailed information about the project and material can be found on the satellite’s website (aalto1.fi)

Watch a video: The satellite’s story (youtube.com)

In addition to the development of the research equipment carried by the satellite, the following actors have also collaborated with the project: SpaceSystems Finland, RSI Solutions, IBS Berlin Space Technologies, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Jyväskylä, Aboa Space Research Asro, Tartu Observatory, Clyde Space, Hyperion Technologies and the Turku University of Applied Sciences.

SpaceSystems Finland and Nokia as well as the University of Turku and RUAG support the launch of the satellite.

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