Space country Estonia: satellite ESTCube-1 was launched to orbit and said hello from the space!
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 an European carrier rocket Vega. ESTCube-1 is now flying with a speed of 7.46 km per second at the distance of averagely 650 km from the ground. The satellite has been successfully activated and sends a Morse code radio signal at predetermined frequency 437.250 MHz, which starts with call signal ES5E/S. The first signal was received by a radio amateur from Ruzaevka city, Mordovia Republic. Track the satellite in real time through GoogleSatTrack.
"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 was an incredibly proud feeling for all the students of our team. 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.
ESTCube-1 started to forward a control signal after separating from the carrier rocket; the signal can be received by all radio amateurs at frequency 437.250 MHz.
Before the satellite even reached Estonia, the first person to receive a signal from ESTCube-1 was a Russian radio amateur Dmitry Paškov from Ruzaevka city, who sent the recorded audio file to ESTCube-1 team via e-mail. "I wish your team good luck and all the best," said Paškov when he was contacted via telephone from ESTCube-1 control centre.
The first complete signal packet was received at 10.30 in ESTCube-1 control centre in Tartu Observatory, Tõravere, when the satellite was first directly visible for the radio station. "This means that the handiwork of Estonian students has survived all hardships related to the start of the carrier rocket and harsh space conditions. All Estonians can now proudly call them the citizenships of a space country because today a real working space satellite was sent into orbit, not just some toy," said the supervisor of the ESTCube-1 project Mart Noorma, senior research fellow of Tartu Observatory and docent at the University of Tartu
"On behalf of our team, we would like to thank all our friends who have been there for us during all the five years of the project. The most important thing during those years has been the moral support," said the manager of ESTCube-1 project Silver Lätt, a doctoral candidate at the University of Tartu, who will return to Estonia from the European space centre in French Guiana by the end of the week.
The launch of ESTCube-1 is dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. Estonia becoming a space country was also recorded on a specially designed stamp with the picture of ESTCube-1 on it. A documentary (working title "Õpetusi kosmoselaeva ehitamiseks") about the realisation process of the student satellite is also being prepared. The documentary is directed by Jaak Kilmi.
Follow the developments of the project on the official news site of the satellite on Facebook.
Click here to see information available to radio amateurs.
Additional information: Mart Noorma, supervisor of the Student Satellite program, tel: +372 523 9159, e-mail: mart.noorma [ät] ut.ee.