Tiny Stellenbosch satellite ready for launch from ISS

2016-08-24 17:15
The 3-axis reaction wheel attitude control unit supplied by Stellenbosch University. (Innovus)

The 3-axis reaction wheel attitude control unit supplied by Stellenbosch University. (Innovus)

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Future plans for CubeSat

2013-11-20 10:55

With South Africa set to launch its first Cube Satellite into space, find out what the future plans for the CubeSat are.WATCH

Cape Town - It is ready, set, go for a nanosatellite developed in Stellenbosch that will be launched along with 49 others from the International Space Station (ISS) early in 2017.

Weighing just 2kg, the ZA-Aerosat was developed by at Stellenbosch University's electronic systems laboratory by the university's engineers and incubation company CubeSpace.

It was the only satellite to form part of the international QB50 project.

The project involves launching 50 satellites, each smaller than a shoebox, from the space station to gather research on the largely unexplored lower thermosphere, between 200km and 400km above Earth.

READ: SA tech to help clean up space junk

QB50 forms part of research carried out by the European Space Agency to make more accurate predictions about space objects penetrating the atmosphere.

ZA-Aerosat will be taken to the Netherlands to be packed with the other satellites. They will then be shipped to the US and transported to the ISS for launch in January next year.

Herman Steyn, head of the project and founder of CubeSpace, said they were asked to supply 15 control units to other satellites.

"They're therefore helping out where other participants don't have enough experience in satellite control systems. It's a huge challenge to keep a satellite within 10° of the orbiting direction."

The funding for these control units helped sponsor ZA-Aerosat.

Steyn said the satellite would also be used to demonstrate the aerodynamic stabilisation of a satellite in practical terms for the first time.

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Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town  |  technology  |  good news  |  space

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