HSE University’s First Satellite Travels 478.7 Million km
The satellite entered orbit two years ago. The launch of the Soyuz-2.1a rocket with a Fregat upper stage and 38 satellites on board, including CubeSX-HSE, took place on March 22, 2021 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
HSE University’s satellite was developed jointly by experts and students from the Laboratory of Space Vehicles and Systems’ Functional Safety of the HSE Tikhonov Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM HSE) and Sputnix, a privately owned space company.
CubeSX-HSE is a small spacecraft comprising three blocks (each of which is approximately 10 cm x 10 cm) mounted on a single frame. One of the units holds a flywheel assembly that orients the vehicle in space, the second includes all the boards for operating the satellite, and the third is entirely dedicated to the payload—a camera for remote sensing of the Earth.
The vehicle is based on the OrbiCraft-Pro 3U CubeSat platform, one of the company’s products, and is equipped with an experimental Fresnel lens camera developed at Samara University with a high-speed X-band transmitter. The satellite's control systems were developed by MIEM HSE staff and students.
In two years, the satellite has travelled 478.7 million km and made 11,000 complete orbits around the Earth. Its average speed is 7.59 km/s. The altitude of the satellite's orbit is 569.8 km at apogee and 537.3 km at perigee.
During its stay in orbit, the device has taken about 320 pictures of the Earth's surface. At the same time, remote sensing of the Earth in the visible spectrum—monitoring the state of the planet's surface, meteorological surveys and tracking large-scale changes—is only part of its work.
In addition to photographing, the spacecraft also has a second task: conducting pilot tests of equipment, both functional boards and payloads. It studies their reliability, durability, and quality of work.
Telemetry reception and satellite control are handled by employees of the Laboratory of Space Vehicles and Systems’ Functional Safety and students of HSE MIEM in a specially established mission control centre.
Signals from the satellite first go to a Zavitok-M VHF receiving and transmitting station, which is also where commands to the satellite are sent. The complex facilitates the reception of telemetry from small spacecraft in low-earth orbit and the transmission of control commands to them.
Regular engagement in satellite control and telemetry processing allows students to improve their competencies in working with Linux and other software, study the principles of radio signal modulation and its analogue-to-digital conversion, learn to work with Software Defined Radio (SDR), and acquire skills in working with mathematical models, filters and complex algorithms.
Alexey Kovalenko, engineer at the Laboratory of Space Vehicles and Systems’ Functional Safety
Student satellites are excellent educational tools that help promising researchers understand the basic principles of space systems and the specifics of scientific experiments. It’s worth noting that the creation and launch of student satellites is not only an achievement in the field of space technology, but also a great way to make science and these technologies more accessible to education and society as a whole.
Images taken by the satellite are posted on the laboratory's website.
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