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100 Days in Space!

100 days in Space!


The QB50 CubeSats deployed in May from the ISS are currently celebrating their first 100 days in Space.
Among the 28 CubeSats deployed from the ISS, 8 were initially thought to be dead on arrival. From them, 3 were finally brought back to life thanks to the radio amateur community. After a few days, an additional one went silent.

For most of the 22 "survivors", commissioning has proven to be challenging. 14 CubeSats are in the process of platform commissioning at various stages. 7 CubeSats are progressing in the sensor unit commissioning, and 1 is already producing valuable science data on a daily basis.

Among the 8 QB50 CubeSats launched by a PSLV rocket in late June, 1 has never been heard. 3 are progressing with the platform commissioning and 3 are commissioning the sensor unit. One IOD CubeSat has already successfully completed its mission: InflateSail deployed a dragsail and is expected to reenter in the atmosphere in the coming days.

Deployment of the QB50 constellation completed

Deployment of the QB50 constellation completed

 
The deployment of the QB50 constellation has been completed this Friday 23rd June at 5.59 am (Brussels time) with the launch of 8 CubeSats. They have been deployed in orbit by  a PSLV-XL rocket. They will complement the 28 QB50 CubeSats in orbit since last month by taking measurements along their polar orbit.
 
See on ISRO website the liftoff and onboard camera video.

QB50 CubeSats deployed from the ISS

QB50 CubeSats are leaving ISS for a largely unexplored area, the thermosphere

The network of QB50 mini-satellites or CubeSats is joining space this Thursday. It is leaving the ISS to join the thermosphere. The deployment is a culmination of work  of more than 50 universities and research institutes, 23 countries, and 5 continents. The project, coordinated by an international consortium, receives funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technical Development*. The QB50 mission is a world premiere, the first study of the thermosphere, a largely unexplored zone.

This morning, the State Secretary for Science Policy, Ms. Zuhal Demir and Ms. Florence Beroud, project officer of the Research Executive Agency (EC) were at VKI to  witness the deployment of the first nano satellites of the QB50 network.

The space policy of the Belgian authorities has put  our research institutes  in the ideal position  to be selected to coordinate important European projects. By its international character, the von Karman Institute is well placed to manage European projects such as QB50. The role of coordinator is a recognition of the expertise of VKI and of the unique role  the Institute plays in the education of engineers and in the  execution of innovative scientific research projects.”

The CubeSats are fully functional miniaturized satellites made up of double or triple cubic units (10x10x10cm). CubeSats have a mass less than 1.33 kilograms per unit and use off-the-shelf electronic components. The nano-satellites have been designed to facilitate access to space research at lower cost.

The QB50 network is composed of 36 CubeSats. A first rocket that took a part of the QB50 constellation in space lifted off with success early on 18 April 2017 from the launch Pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

28 CubeSats reached then the International Space Station. Since Thursday the CubSats are deployed in space. The CubeSats (contained in their dispenser) are installed by an astronaut on the sliding table of the Japanese Experimental Module (developed by JAXA). The table with the dispenser  is moved outside of the Station via the airlock. The  dispenser is  then grabbed by the robotic arm and moved into the correct position for deployment. Each  dispenser hosts between 1 and 3 QB50 CubeSats, which are released  into orbit at the same time by a command from ground (with a pause of minimum 3 hours between each command). The launch of the 8 remaining CubeSats is foreseen by the end of May.


On board of the ISS, a universal collaboration is essential for success. Teaming worldwide is key for reaching the challenging goals awaiting humankind inside and outside of our solar system. We are proud to contribute to this international effort”, explained Thomas Pesquet, astronaut on the ISS, who is in charge of the QB50 deployment.

This project represents a unique collaboration between universities and research institutes from 23 countries around the world. The project, coordinated by an international consortium, receives funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technical Development*. QB50 has the objectives that include facilitating access to space for universities and research centers, performing measurements in the thermosphere, demonstrating new technologies in orbit and promoting space collaboration and science education.

Towards the largely unexplored area: the thermosphere

The QB50 mission is a world premiere. The project is the first attempt to provide multi-point measurements of the upper layers of the atmosphere, the mid-lower thermosphere, located between 200km and 400 km altitude, through a constellation of CubeSats. This area of the thermosphere is the least explored mainly because it is difficult or risky to reach. It is too high in altitude to be reached by ground radar and small rockets and it is too low for satellites. In fact, this area is important to accurately determine the reentry trajectory of a spacecraft.

After deployment, the CubeSats of the QB50 constellation will initiate their long descent. While orbiting around the Earth several times a day, the CubeSats will take a large number of measurements of the gaseous molecules and electrical properties of the thermosphere. The data will be centralized by the von Karman Institute and will serve to better understand the relation between the Earth’s atmosphere and the Sun radiation. The results generated by the constellation will be used to validate and enhance forecasting models and improve our understanding of the physical processes taking part in the thermosphere. The CubeSats flying in the thermosphere will have a very short lifetime, between 1 to 2 years, before completely burning up in the atmosphere.

The data generated by the constellation will be unique in many ways and they will be used for many years by scientists around the world.

Some key figures

QB50 involved more than 50 professors and 300 students. Its budget reached 9 million EUR, a fraction of the cost of a conventional space mission. Today more than 1000 pages documentation were produced and reviewed.

QB50 on its way to the ISS

Successful launch of a world premiere bringing together 23 countries: QB50 on its way to the ISS

EU LOGOLogo VKI

The objective of the European project QB50 is to design and to deploy in space a network of miniaturized satellites to study the lower layers of the thermosphere. Funded by the European Union, the project implements an international Consortium led by the von Karman Institute (VKI). The first of the two rockets that will take the QB50 constellation in space lifted off with success early on Tuesday (11.11 a.m. Cape Canaveral, 5.11 p.m. Brussels).

A large portion of the QB50 constellation (28 out of 36 CubeSats) lifted off at 5.11 p.m. GMT on Tuesday April 18th (11.11 a.m. EST, USA) from the launch Pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida. In the next days, the spacecraft will dock with the international Space Station, the 28 CubeSats should be deployed end of April. A second launch is foreseen in May with the remaining 8 CubeSats.

The CubeSats are fully functional miniaturized satellites made up of double or triple cubic units (10x10x10cm). CubeSats have a mass less than 1.33 kilograms per unit and use off-the-shelf electronic components. The nano-satellites have been designed to facilitate access to space research at lower cost.

This project represents a unique collaboration between universities and research institutes from 23 countries around the world. The project, coordinated by an international Consortium, receives funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technical Development*. QB50 has the objectives that include facilitating access to space for universities and research centers, performing measurements in the thermosphere, demonstrating new technologies in orbit and promoting space collaboration and science education. The QB50 CubeSats have been designed and built by a large number of young engineers, supervised by experienced staff at their universities and guided by the QB50 project through reviews and feedbacks.

The QB50 mission is a world premiere. The project is the first attempt to provide multi-point measurements of the upper layers of the atmosphere, the mid-lower thermosphere, located between 200km and 400 km altitude, through a constellation of CubeSats. This area of the thermosphere is the least explored mainly because it is difficult or risky to reach. It is too high in altitude to be reached by ground radar and small rockets and it is too low for satellites. In fact, this area is important to accurately determine the reentry trajectory of a spacecraft.

After deployment, the CubeSats of the QB50 constellation will initiate their long descent. While orbiting around the Earth several times a day, the CubeSats will take a large number of measurements of the gaseous molecules and electrical properties of the thermosphere. The data will be centralized by the von Karman Institute and will serve to better understand the relation between the Earth’s atmosphere and the Sun radiation. The results generated by the constellation will be used to validate and enhance forecasting models and improve our understanding of the physical processes taking part in the thermosphere. The CubeSats flying in the thermosphere will have a very short lifetime, between 1 to 2 years, before completely burning up in the atmosphere.

This project is the very first international real-time coordinated study of the thermosphere phenomena. The data generated by the constellation will be unique in many ways and they will be used for many years by scientists around the world”, stresses Dr. Davide Masutti, QB50 project manager at the von Karman Institute.

*This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development under grant agreement no [284427]. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

QB50-ISS ready to be launched

QB50-ISS CubeSats ready to be launched

By Davide Masutti

 

Brussels, Belgium – Two weeks ago the launch preparation activities managed by VKI/ISIS/NanoRacks were successfully concluded at Innovative Solutions In Space B.V. facilities. Twenty-eight (28) CubeSats of the QB50 constellation were integrated into eleven (11) NanoRacks 6U deployers. After a formal handover of the hardware to NanoRacks LLC, the CubeSats and the deployers were shipped to NanoRacks’s facilities in Houston (US). Today the hardware has been cleared out at the US customs and then it will be transported to the cleanroom of NanoRacks. In a window of time between Dec 19th 2016 to Jan 9th 2017 all deployers will be finally delivered to Lockheed Martin which is responsible for the Cargo Mission Contract (CMC).

From there on, Lockheed Martin will be in charge of loading the deployers into the Cygnus CRS OA-7 Cargo for a launch atop an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral SLC-40 on March 16th 2017 (date/time to be confirmed).

 

Additional CubeSats for the ISS

Additional three (3) CubeSats are making their way to Houston following different routes from Russia, India and California. These CubeSats will be then integrated into a single deployer directly by NanoRacks in their facilities.

 

When the CubeSats will be deployed into space?

The configuration of the deployment from the ISS has been defined during the integration campaign. The CubeSats will be deployed from the ISS into two consecutive airlock cycles separated by 60 days (exact dates to be confirmed by NASA according to the ISS crew schedule). The configuration of the deployment sequence with the correspondent sensor unit is given in the table below.

 

 

CubeSat ID

Size

Deployer

Airlock 1

Airlock 2

AU01

2U

D7

INMS

 

AU02

2U

D1

 

INMS

AU03

2U

D9

mNLP

 

AZ01

2U

D10

FIPEX

 

AZ02

2U

D6

 

FIPEX

CA03

3U

D12

 

mNLP

CN02 (BE02)

2U

D6

 

INMS

CN03 (BE03)

2U

D1

 

FIPEX

CN04 (BE04)

2U

D2

INMS

 

DE02

2U

D3

FIPEX

 

ES01

2U

D7

INMS

 

FI01

2U

D7

mNLP

 

FR01

2U

D4

FIPEX

 

FR05

2U

D5

FIPEX

 

GR01

2U

D6

 

mNLP

GR02

2U

D5

mNLP

 

IL01

2U

D5

mNLP

 

IN01

2U

D16

FIPEX

 

KR01

2U

D10

INMS

 

KR02

2U

D9

FIPEX

 

KR03

2U

D11

 

FIPEX

RU01

2U

D16

FIPEX

 

SE01

2U

D4

FIPEX

 

TR01

2U

D2

mNLP

 

TR02

2U

D3

mNLP

 

TW01

2U

D4

INMS

 

UA01

2U

D9

FIPEX

 

US01

2U

D1

 

INMS

US02

2U

D2

FIPEX

 

US03

2U

D16

INMS

 

US04

2U

D3

FIPEX

 

         
 

no. INMS

 

6

3

 

no. FIPEX

 

11

3

 

no. mNLP

 

6

2

 

Total

 

23

8

 

 

Contact

To learn more about the launch campaign and the next steps, please contact

 

Dr. Davide Masutti, QB50 Project Manager

Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics

Chaussée de Waterloo, 72

B-1640 Rhode-Saint-Genése, Belgium

Office: +32-2-359-9658

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

QB50 project in video

 

Presentation in French

First launch under Belgian jurisdiction and first Belgium nanosatellites in space

The first Belgium nanosatellites were successfully deployed this night in low earth orbit (600km altitude). This launch of two nanosatellites is the first application of the Belgian space law adopted in 2005 and revised at the end of 2013. Thanks to this legal framework, Belgium can authorize and supervise satellite missions in full accordance with the international treaties, the associated safety standards and the mitigation of space debris.

The embarked satellites are so called double CubeSats, having a 10 cm x 10 cm x 20 cm volume with a mass of less than 2 kg. They have been designed, manufactured and tested by several partners: the von Karman Institute VKI (BE), ISIS – Innovative Solutions In Space (NL), Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UK), Technische Universitat Dresden (DE), Surrey Space Center (UK) and AMSAT (FR/NL).

The launch has been procured by the QB50 project, an EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) funded project. This launch mission, entrusted to ISIS, took place out of the base of Yasny in southern Russia, with a DNEPR rocket at 21:11 (Belgian time). The nanosatellites currently flying around the Earth at a velocity of about 7,5 km per second are already transmitting scientific and technological data to ground stations all around the world.

This successful launch is the precursor flight ahead of the main QB50 mission. QB50 is a space project led by a consortium of 15 international partners. The project foresees to send in 2016 into a low earth orbit a set of 50 CubeSats. 45 of those CubeSats will form a constellation and will investigate the lower thermosphere, one of the layers more rarely investigated. The remaining CubeSats will carry some technologies to be tested in orbit. Amongst them, the re-entry CubeSat of the von Karman Institute will be equipped with a thermal shield to allow the CubeSat to be saved during its reentry in the Earth atmosphere.

Philippe Courard, secretary of state for Science Policy, delivered his first mission launch authorization under Belgian jurisdiction. He expresses : “Belgium, the leader country in the space domain, has taken two new steps: Belgium took over responsibility of a mission launch and sent its first satellites into orbit.” He adds: “The Belgian Know-how in satellite development is widely recognized: for example, the PROBA satellites have been manufactured by the Belgian industry in the framework of the European Space Agency. The QB50 satellites were developed and launched under the jurisdiction of Belgium. This successful mission launch stresses the relevance of the investment made in the space research and innovation during the last 50 years. It’s a major event for our space policy.”

As the coordinator of the QB50 project, the von Karman Institute is very proud with this unprecedented precursor launch.

About QB50: www.qb50.eu

ISL ISL ISL ISL
picture credientials ISL BV, NL

Contact
VKI: Christelle Debeer - VKI Press Spokesperson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jan Thoemel – QB50 Project Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ISIS: Jeroen Rotteveel – ISIS CEO, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Joost Elstak – QB50 Precursor Mission Project Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ISIS delivers the first two QB50 satellites as part of the EU FP7 QB50 project

The QB50 project has reached another crucial milestone. The first two QB50 satellites have been delivered for shipment to the launch site after a successful flight acceptance test campaign. The satellites will form the QB50 Precursor mission that seeks to de-risk and validate key technologies of the QB50 main flight that will be performed in the coming years.

The following payloads were integrated into the ISIS satellite platforms:

QB50p1

  • INMS Payload from MSSL, UK
  • QB50 ADCS system from SSC, UK
  • Thermocouple experiment from VKI, Belgium
  • AMSAT-NL transponder from AMSAT-NL, The Netherlands

QB50p2

  • FIPEX Payload, University of Dresden, Germany
  • QB50 ADCS system from SSC, UK
  • Thermocouple experiment from VKI, Belgium
  • AMSAT-Fr transponder from AMSAT Francophone, France

ISISThe project was executed to an unprecedented timeline. Formal Kick-Off was in October 2013 and all hardware from the different partners was delivered for integration into the satellites in January 2014. This means that two satellites were delivered in just over 6 months. Furthermore, with a precursor launch scheduled in June, launch and operations will commence within 9 months of project Kick-Off.
This fast-track project shows how successful a close cooperation between academic institutes and experienced companies can be. With ISIS’ experienced team of engineers that design and build nanosatellites on a regular basis (ISIS remains on track to delivering 1 satellite system per month in 2014), throughput times of nanosatellite projects can be shortened significantly.
The upcoming launch of the QB50 precursor satellites will also be the first satellites to be launched that were funded through the EU’s FP7 space technology programme, in which a number of innovative small satellites will be launched in the coming years to demonstrate new European space technologies.
The lessons learned from the QB50 Precursor development and operations have already led to many recommendations to further improve and streamline the QB50 main flight. All teams involved in QB50 stand to benefit from the experiences gained over the last months.
About QB50: www.qb50.eu

VKI: Christelle Debeer - Communication - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / Jan Thoemel – QB50 Project Manager - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ISIS: Jeroen Rotteveel – ISIS CEO - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / Joost Elstak – QB50 Precursor Mission Project Manager - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Satellites

Satelittes