Estonia became a space country today — ESTCube-1 was placed into orbit!
Today, on 7 May at 7.06, Estonia took a huge step in designing its space history when Estonia's first satellite ESTCube-1 was launched into orbit aboard a European carrier rocket Vega. The start of the carrier rocket went according to the plan and ESTCube-1 is now flying with a speed of 7.46 km per second at the distance of averagely 650 km from the ground, reaching above Estonia at 10.30 this morning.
After a two-day delay caused by unsuitable weather conditions in European space centre in Kourou, French Guiana, Estonia's first satellite ESTCube-1 was launched into Earth's orbit aboard of the European Space Agency's (ESA) latest carrier rocket Vega. The scientific mission of ESTCube-1 is to test the components of an electric solar wind sail. The co-travellers of our student satellite were the European remote monitoring satellite Proba-V and Vietnam's first remote monitoring satellite VNREDSat-1A.
"Thanks to talented young specialists, Estonian space science has taken a huge step forward. I am absolutely certain that Estonia has a possibility to successfully contribute to the space discoveries of the mankind," said Dr Anu Reinart, the Director of Tartu Observatory yesterday, who was also observing the start of the satellite and Estonia becoming a space country.
"The emotions in European space centre in Kourou are grand and everybody is happy that the start of Vega was 100% successful. Our ESTCube-1 got a great applause from the space specialists when separating from the carrier. We were congratulated by both Director Generals of the ESA as well as French Space Agency," said Silver Lätt, doctoral candidate at the University of Tartu and project manager of ESTCube-1, mediating emotions from the European space centre.
"We watched the start together with the students and friends from ESTCube-1 control centre in Tartu Observatory. The start of the carrier rocket with clearly visible ESTCube logo made all the students of our team incredibly proud. We are now waiting for the first contact with the satellite," commented the supervisor of the student satellite project of Estonian space mission Mart Noorma, senior research fellow of Tartu Observatory and docent at the University of Tartu.