TALLINN - Estonia’s first satellite, ESTCube-1, is completed and has started its trip to the European space center in the French Guiana, reports Public Broadcasting.
The satellite, built in the framework of the Estonian Student Satellite Program, will be placed on a space shuttle with two other similar satellites and sent to space in the spring. It is then that Estonia will become a space country, at the beginning of April, when the student satellite will start working at the height of 680 km above the Earth, and will send its first signal to the Toravere observatory.
The satellite weighs a little over 1 kilogram, but despite this it should be a space revolution. A so-called solar sail is to be launched from the student satellite during the flight and, thus, the flight of ESTCube will be the first testing of a key element of the electric solar sail, invented by Finnish scientist Pekka Janhunen, in space.
Nearly a hundred Estonian students and scientists have contributed to the completion of the Estonian satellite over the past five years.
“The name of the student satellite should be written in bold since the biggest importance of the project for the Estonian state and people is the new generation of young engineers and scientists, who get here a very practical experience in developing high-tech with their own hands, and that is applicable not just in space, but in any electronics industry,” said ESTCube project manager Mart Noorma.
Estonia was accepted as the 11th state to became a full member of the European Interparliamentary Space Conference at the organization’s XIVth meeting that ended last October in Warsaw, reported Delfi.
Estonia was represented by the Riigikogu space studies support group chairwoman, Riigikogu speaker Ene Ergma and deputy chairman of the support group, state defense committee chairman Mati Raidma.
“Branches of the economy that use space satellites are developing fast today,” said Ergma, adding that Estonia has worked for the past six years actively in the name of becoming a member of the European Space Agency.
“We have participated already in 12 different science and entrepreneurship programs in the status of an associated member. As a serious milestone, we will send, in cooperation with ESA, Estonia’s first student satellite into orbit in 2013,” promised Ergma.
The European Interparliamentary Space Conference is a forum created to design European space policies and which gathers together representatives of European parliaments. During the conference, Ergma had an unofficial meeting with the speaker of the Polish parliament, to discuss more active interparliamentary relations.