NTU Launches Nano & Pico Satellites

Designed and built by students and researchers at NTU, the satellites VELOX-I and VELOX-PIII are now orbiting 650 km above the Earth.

AsianScientist (Jul 9, 2014) – Singapore now has two new satellites orbiting in space, built by Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

The nation’s latest satellites, VELOX-I and VELOX-PIII, were launched into space on India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV C-23 at 9.52 am (12.21 pm Singapore time), on Monday, 30 June 2014.

Designed and built by students and researchers at the NTU Satellite Research Centre, the VELOX-I is a nano-satellite, which weighs a total of 4.28 kg. It has a camera sensor, a mechanism to control the orientation of the satellite, an inter-satellite communication system and a novel piggyback mechanism which allows it to deploy VELOX-PIII, a 193 g mobile phone-sized pico-satellite. VELOX-PIII will be separated at a later part of the experiment.

Both satellites are flying 650 kilometres above the Earth, on an orbital plane that has a fixed orientation to the sun, known as a sun-synchronous low-Earth-orbit.

Launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, India, the NTU duo was one of five mission satellites loaded on the space rocket owned by the Indian Space Research Organisation.

NTU has also built a new, state-of-the-art Mission Control Centre that will be the hub of operations for the NTU satellites. Located at NTU’s Research Techno Plaza, the new 105m2 control centre, which has advanced satellite communication and computer systems, had earlier received confirmation from VELOX-I during its first ground pass that all its systems were functioning well. The solar panels, the communication antennas, and the camera optics have been deployed successfully.

The other two NTU-built satellites currently operating in space are X-SAT, a fridge-sized micro-satellite weighing 105 kg built by NTU and DSO National Laboratories that was launched in April 2011, and VELOX-PII, an NTU student-built pico-satellite satellite launched in November last year.

“Such projects will spur greater interest in engineering research and development among undergraduates. We hope to nurture our young talents by having them design and build satellites. At the same time, NTU will continue to push the frontiers in satellite research and expand our partnership with satellite companies with made-in-NTU satellite technologies,” said NTU Provost Professor Freddy Boey.

Under NTU’s ten-year satellite road map, the university plans to develop a series of nano-satellites. The satellite team is now working on a 12 kg nano-satellite named VELOX-II that is on track to be launched in the later part of next year.

NTU is also building Singapore’s first weather satellite funded by Singapore’s Economic Development Board. Named VELOX-CI, it is a fridge-sized 130-kg satellite which will be used for tropical climate study and is due to be completed by September next year. The core team from the X-SAT programme is also working on Singapore’s first commercial remote sensing satellite, TeLEOS-1, under a joint venture company ST Electronics (satellite systems) Pte Ltd.


Source: Nanyang Technological University.
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