Connection to the Foresail-1 science satellite is lost - the construction of a new satellite is already underway

The replacement satellite will come with improvements to its power systems and error recovery systems, for example. Losing a mission is always a big disappointment, but it also takes research and teaching further, says Assistant Professor Jaan Praks, who led the construction of the satellite.
Havainnekuva tiedesatelliitti Foresail-1:stä maapallon yllä.
An observation image of Foresail-1 satellite in space. Photo: Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Space Science and Technology

The first satellite constructed by the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Space Science and Technology, Foresail-1, was launched into space on 26 May. The launch went well radio communication started normally. However, later in June, after reconfiguration of the satellite transmitter, the connection was suddenly lost.

‘After that, information about the status of the satellite and the duration of the problem was uncertain even after thorough analysis. We decided to give the team time and peace to work with several scenarios to save the satellite. The satellite has numerous backup systems, and multiple different attempts were made to activate them. This work is still in progress. Now, unfortunately, we have to accept that the connection to the satellite is very likely lost forever,' says Assistant Professor Jaan Praks, who led the development and construction of the satellite.

Aalto University's satellite team and its satellite laboratory, as part of the Centre of Excellence, has developed a completely new open satellite platform, which, consists of attitude system, telemetry and telecommand system, central computer, structure and power system with solar panels. To make future satellites cheaper, the system was assembled mostly of inexpensive electronic components which are not designed for space use. Unfortunately, they do not always withstand the conditions of space.

Praks admits that the loss of a satellite was a great disappointment to his team and the entire Centre of Excellence.

'However, setbacks always teach you a lesson and take research and the team’s competence further. The effort was not in vain. We have working platform and dozens of Masters of Science and several doctors have been trained during this project. The risky projects bring sometimes big rewards. The previous project, Finland's first satellite, Aalto-1, opened the door to the entire Finnish New Space industry. And it is still working! Without risk-taking, there will be no breakthroughs,‘ he says.

The construction of the replacement satellite has already started at Aalto University. The improved new model can be assembled quickly based on the earlier development and flight spare parts. Also, the teams responsible for payloads at the University of Turku and the Finnish Meteorological Institute are already involved in the construction work.

Further information

Jaan Praks
Assistant Professor, Aalto University
phone +358 50 420 5847
[email protected] 

Minna Palmroth
Professor and Director of the Centre of Excellence, University of Helsinki
phone + 358 50 311 1950

Rami Vainio (further information related to the particle telescope PATE)
Professor or the Turku University
phone +358 40 7397 347
[email protected]

Pekka Janhunen (further information on the plasma brake)
Research Manager, the Finnish Meteorological Institute
phone +358 29 539 4635
[email protected] 

Emilia Kilpua
Professor, University of Helsinki
phone +358 29 415 0615
[email protected] 

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