The first week of ESTCube-1 in space highly successful
According to the team, the first seven days in the space have been more successful than anticipated. Bilateral communication has been established with the satellite and ESTCube-1 follows orders without a hitch. The software aboard the satellite has been updated successfully. Radio amateurs from all continents transmit the received radio beacon signals to the ESTCube-1 control centre. Estonia's first satellite has been officially designated 2013-021C in the register of spacecrafts monitored by the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD).
"The mission of Estonia's first satellite has had a better than expected start, as all of the tested systems work splendidly and follow the orders received from the control centre. Stable bilateral communication has been established," says member of the ESTCube-1 team, a doctoral student at the University of Tartu Mihkel Pajusalu. "In addition, the satellite continues to transmit the radio beacon signal in Morse. By now, signals have been received from the beacon and transmitted to Tartu by radio amateurs from all continents except Antarctica," Pajusalu adds.
"The most well-known institution to monitor the objects moving through space - the North American Aerospace Defence Command NORAD - immediately began to follow ESTCube-1 by radar, and has been publishing the actual parameters of the orbit of ESTCube-1 in its database from 8 May. The official designation of the satellite is 2013-021C. By means of these data, we can follow the exact position of the Estonian satellite," says Head of the ESTCube-1 Earth station, a doctoral student at the University of Tartu Tõnis Eenmäe of the tracking of the satellite's trajectory.
"ESTCube-1 is moving on a polar orbit at the speed of 7.5 km/s or 27,095 km/h, and as such it is probably the fastest vehicle ever built in Estonia," says supervisor of the project Mart Noorma. "The average height of the satellite from ground level is 666 km. A trip around the Earth takes 98 minutes. As of now, the satellite has travelled around the Earth 88 times, that is a bit less than 15 times per day. By the end of its expected lifetime in 2036, the satellite will most likely have travelled nearly 5.5 billion kilometres," says Noorma of the voyage of the spacecraft.
The main communication channel of ESTCube-1 was switched on 48 hours after the take-off of the launcher. Through the channel, space data can be downloaded at the rate of 900 bps. Nearly 4000 communication packages have been received by now. The first order was transmitted to the satellite on 9 May, at 10 a.m., and bilateral communication has been functioning successfully ever since. The satellite reported that the electrical system, on-board computer, communication system and control system were all in working order. The satellite's camera has taken the first test photograph. Software updating via radio has been tested and the electrical alarm system software has been successfully replaced with a newer version.