The field of nanosatellites is growing at a tremendous pace and the number of satellites is increasing sharply. Risk investors around the world have invested billions in the construction of new types of services with the help of a new generation of low-cost small satellites.
'Today nanosatellites make it possible entities other than traditional space organisations and great powers to engage in space activities. Many small satellite projects of universities have given birth to entire space programmes in small countries', notes Jaan Praks, Professor of Space Technology.
Financial markets yearn for revolutionary ideas, and young geniuses are needed to come up with them and to carry them out. The CubeSat project of various universities has been most successful in the matter.
'Our teaching in space technology is based on the nanosatellites of the Cubesat class. Finland's first satellite, the Aalto-1, was built primarily as a student project in extensive collaboration with other Finnish universities and institutes. The Aalto-1 will be launched into space at the end of the year, and will soon be followed by Aalto-2, which has been almost completed in Otaniemi.
Space technology needs top skills and knowledge, and Finland has good possibilities to carve out its own special area in this.
'Nanosatellites that have been imaginatively built, do not lag far behind large satellites, and from an educational standpoint, Aalto-1 has been excellent', observes doctoral candidate Antti Kestilä.
The potential business opportunities of outer space are being considered by players around the world. Finland’s possibilities to take part in the activities were pondered at a brainstorming session at Aalto University.
Success demands cooperation
A stakeholders' meeting that was organised at Aalto University on future prospects for nanosatellites on 21 August brought together about 50 experts and influential figures in the field of space technology in Finland. The work took place in three working groups, and at the end of the day the participants wrote recommendations that will be discussed at subsequent events. Under consideration were various financial models, the possibilities for business activities in the future, and the significance of research in the development.
'We at Aalto want to put effort into teaching and research work. The shared understanding was that nanosatellites have much use in science and a great potential in the development of the services and business models of science technology', Praks points out.
Businesses that have been involved were interested in the idea of setting up a Space Factory competence centre at Aalto University. Space Factory could help companies utilising space technology of the new generation to develop services and products faster, since the testing and learning of the technology itself would not require so much time. Aalto has a ready solution both in the technology and in testing.
'Rapid growth in the field is giving rise to new businesses at a growing pace in Finland as well. ICEYE Oy is the first Finnish company to build its own satellites as a platform for its service. The fresh start-up company has moved forward from the Aalto-1 project, Praks says.
Finland 100 satellite to be launched in centenary year of Finnish independence
Aalto-1 and Aalto-2 will be followed by a satellite going under the name of Finland 100. The nanosatellite has been selected for the programme of 2017, the centenary of Finnish independence, with the goal of offering each Finn a unique space experience. The satellite, which is to be built by students, will contain cameras and a radio receiver that will record images of the earth, space, the Aurora Borealis, and especially Finland.
'Also intensely involved in the project is education in the field, through the LUMA Centre at Aalto and the Space Truck tour', says Professor Esa Kallio, who hopes that possible partners in collaboration might make contact.
The Rosetta Mission has become familiar to Professor Esa Kallio in recent times.
'Projects conducted with limited resources are fascinating, considering that before this, experience has largely been limited to space projects lasting twenty years', Kallio adds.
Professor Jaan Praks
tel. +358 50 420 5847
Professor Esa Kallio
tel. +358 50 4205 857