09.11.2016 change 09.11.2016

Launch of the student satellite PW-Sat2 planned for the end of 2017

Launch of the satellite PW-Sat2, built by students of Warsaw University of Technology, is planned for the end of 2017. The satellite will set off into space from the Vandenberg base in the United States. This will be the second satellite of WUT students to be launched into space.

The satellite built by the Students\' Space Association at Warsaw University of Technology will be launched into orbit, to an altitude of approx. 575 km on Falcon 9 rocket. The launch will be arranged by Innovative Space Logistics BV.

On October 26 in Warsaw, a contract for satellite launching was signed by the director of the Institute of Heat Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology Prof. Krzysztof Badyda and the founder of Innovative Space Logistics BV - Abe Bonnema.

Project manager Inna Uvarova spoke about the tasks of PW-Sat2 during a press conference: "We decided that we wanted to tackle the problem of space debris - objects that after the completion of their mission endanger other, operating satellites, because you can not control them any more. Human activities in space are thriving, so there are more and more of such objects. We have to look for ways to solve this problem. We decided that instead of bringing inactive satellites down from orbit, we would create a system that would prevent the formation of such debris".

The task of the second satellite designed by the members of the Students\' Space Association is to test innovative deorbiting technology. The satellite is a cuboid with dimensions of 10x10x22 cm. Deorbiting system of PW-Sat2 is a square sail made of a durable film with an area of 4 sq. m, folded and placed in a cylinder. Almost two months after the launch into orbit, the sail will be unlocked, and then extended to a safe distance from the satellite and opened. This will greatly increase the satellite\'s aerodynamic drag, which will accelerate the reduction of its orbit.

According to analyses carried out by the students, under optimal conditions this solution will significantly reduce the deorbiting time of the satellite. As a result, future satellites, after the completion of their mission, will not become heaps of hazardous garbage and, for example, threaten the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

On board PW-Sat2 there will be two cameras with a simple optical system, which will allow students to observe a portion of the surface of the deorbiting sail. The creators of satellite intend to record the process of sail opening in order to be able to accurately verify both the operation of the applied mechanisms and the effectiveness of the solution.

According to Inna Uvarova, another important element of PW-Sat2 is a solar sensor, designed to gather information about the position and orientation of the satellite in space on the basis of the angle of the sun. The sensor is a type of satellite compass, which will provide the information needed to properly position PW-Sat2. Its readings will be compared with commercially available sensor.

Funding in the amount of 180 thousand euros, obtained in early 2016 from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, allowed the team to carry out a tender and choose a company that will organize the launch. The cost of building the satellites reached 60-80 thousand euros. This amount - as Uvarova emphasized - is still quite low, because the satellites of this type and size usually cost about 100 to 200 thousand euros.

The team of over 30 students from various faculties of Warsaw University of Technology started the work on PW-Sat2 in 2013. Earlier - in February 2012 - the first Polish satellite PW-Sat, also built by students of Warsaw University of Technology, was launched into orbit. Active contact with the satellite lasted for about half a year after placing it in orbit; then the satellite went into a state of total hibernation. One of the subsystems failed, which contributed to difficulties with receiving command to open the deorbiting tail. The creators of the next satellite assure that PW-Sat2 will be ready to deal with such accidents and complete its mission automatically, even in the event of loss of communication with the satellite.

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