April 15, 2013

Estonia’s ESTCube-1 integrated into Vega

The multi-satellite payload “stack” for Vega’s upcoming flight from French Guiana is now taking shape as the Arianespace-managed integration process advances at the Spaceport. This activity began in the Spaceport’sS5 clean room facility with installation of Estonia’s ESTCube-1 student nanosatellite on a flat mounting surface called the P2 Plate, which serves as the lower interface in the Vega’s payload stack. The small cube-shaped satellite and its dispenser were integrated using a bracket that was mounted to the P2 Plate.

The next step was the placement of Vietnam’s VNREDSat-1 with its interface adapter on the P2 Plate, joining ESTCube-1.
Both satellites are located in the payload stack’s lower position, and will ride inside a larger dispenser system called VESPA. Completing the payload arrangement will be installation of the mission’s third satellite—Proba-V—which is to ride atop the VESPA dispenser. Proba-V will have a mass at liftoff of 160kg. and is to monitor global vegetation growth. Produced by prime contractor QinetiQ Space Belgium for the European Space Agency, the satellite is equipped with a newer version of the Vegetation imaging instrument that previously operated on the Spot series of Earth observation satellites—which also were orbited by Arianespace.

The 1.3kg. ESTCube-1 cubesat was designed to test electric solar wind sail technologies, as well as help establish an Estonian infrastructure for future space projects. It was built by a collaboration of students from Tartu University, Estonian Aviation Academy, Tallinn University of Technology and University of Life Sciences —and was developed in conjunction with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the German Space Center (DLR).

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