Estonia’s first satellite ESTCube-1 to take off into space on 4 May at 5.06 a.m.
The first Estonian satellite ESTCube-1 will be launched to the Earth’s orbit from the European spaceport in French Guiana aboard the European Space Agency’s (ESA) newest launcher Vega in the early morning hours of Saturday, 4 May, at 5.06 a.m. Estonian time. Estonia’s progress toward becoming a space nation can be watched live from the website of Arianespace.tv.
“The cube satellite ESTCube-1, created by our students in cooperation with research partners from Estonia, Finland and Germany, has successfully passed the final tests in French Guiana and is waiting for a lift-off aboard the launcher Vega together with the European Earth observation satellite Proba-V and Vietnam’s first Earth observation satellite VNREDSat-1a,” says the supervisor of the project Mart Noorma from the University of Tartu. ESTCube-1 will reach its intended orbit as the third of these satellites in the early morning of Saturday, at approximately 7.06 a.m. The lift-off of the launcher and the broadcast from the ESA mission control centre up to the deployment of ESTCube-1 can be watched live on the website Arianespace.tv.
After deployment, ESTCube-1 will start transmitting a beacon signal that all radio amateurs can receive at the frequency of 437.250 MHz.
Estonia’s student satellite programme was initiated by the students and teachers of the University of Tartu in 2008 in order to popularise real sciences and engineering, give practical experience to the students, and promote enterprisingness. The scientific mission of the ESTCube-1 satellite is to test the components of an electric solar sail, a novel propulsion technology for interplanetary space flight, invented by Pekka Janhunen from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Throughout its working period, the Estonian student satellite programme has involved nearly a hundred students from the University of Tartu, the Tallinn University of Technology, the Estonian Aviation Academy, and the Estonian University of Life Sciences. The project has been supervised by researchers from the Tartu Observatory and the University of Tartu. UT foreign students from Latvia, Lithuania, Germany and Ukraine have actively contributed to the project. The international project partners include also the University of Helsinki, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of Eastern Finland, and the German Aerospace Center. The project is supported by the European Space Agency. The first step toward becoming a space nation in the form of launching the satellite on orbit is dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.