Preparations under way in Otaniemi for the first satellite launch
Students have been busily working in Otaniemi all summer, when the earth station was transferred to a new location on the campus. The station is now ready to support the satellite missions. Photo: Petri Niemelä / Aalto University
Aalto-1, the first satellite to be made in Finland, has been ready to go for a long time already. In May it was delivered to Delft, in Holland, where it was integrated into a dispenser in the clean room facilities of the company Innovative Solutions in Space. The satellite is waiting in the dispenser to be transported to the launch site on the US west coast at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The company SpaceX has not yet confirmed the timetable for the Falcon 9 rocket which will be transporting the satellite, but the team members expect the launch to take place either at the end of the year or in January 2017.
‘In September, we carried out the final checks on the Aalto-2 satellite and we fixed it to the Nanoracks launch adaptor in the Innovative Solutions in Space clean room in Holland. Aalto-1 is awaiting its launch in the same place, so we tested its functionality at the same time’, explains doctoral candidate Antti Kestilä, one of the satellite’s architects.
The estimated launch time for Aalto-2 is the end of 2016, when it will be launched from the US east coast up towards the ISS space station.
Aalto-1 (on the right) ja Aalto-2 in the same picture taken in Otaniemi. The satellites are ready to start their journey to their launch sites. Photo: Antti Kestilä / Aalto University
Renewed earth station supports satellite missions
Students have been busily working away in Otaniemi all summer, when the earth station was transferred to a new location on the campus. The renewed earth station will support the missions of Aalto-1, Aalto-2 and possibly also the Finland100 satellite. The information sent by the satellites will be received by the earth station.
‘The earth station will primarily meet the needs of Aalto-1, which will be launched into an orbit around the earth’s poles at a height of around 600km. The route will pass over Otaniemi, so we will be able to observe it every 24 hours.
The Aalto-2 satellite will participate in the international QB50 mission. The project involves a total of 50 nanosatellites which will be launched in satellite clusters into a low orbit. The satellites will spread rapidly across a large area within the orbit, and then less than half a year later will fall into the Earth's atmosphere, where they will burn up due to friction.
‘The orbit of the Aalto-2 satellite is close to the equator and therefore very far from Finland. Not all the observations can be made in Finland, and for this reason the mission will make use of multiple earth stations, with the main observations being made closer to the equator’, explains research assistant Petri Niemelä.
Niemelä, whose master’s thesis was connected to the Aalto-1 project, maintains and services the earth station every week. An identical test copy of the Aalto-1 satellite is kept in Otaniemi, so it is easy to carry out tests on data communication connections.
‘The first students graduated as Masters of Science in Technology through the Aalto-1 project as early as 2012, in which year the construction of the Aalto-2 satellite also began as a postgraduate project. Everything is ready for the first satellite launch’, confirms team leader and Assistant Professor of Space Technology Jaan Praks.
Jaan Praks, Assistant Professor and project leader Aalto University
tel. +358 50 420 5847
Doctoral Candidate Antti Kestilä
tel. +358 45 131 0609
More detailed information about the Aalto-1 satellite, as well as other material, can be found on the website (aalto1.fi)
News item from 14 July 2016: Aalto-2 satellite is ready for space