The launch of the Vega carrier rocket, which was delayed several times due to unfavourable weather conditions, finally took place today, in the early morning of 3 September. This means that Hämarik, the second student satellite built in cooperation between TalTech students and AS Datel, was also put into orbit.
Rauno Gordon, head of the Hämarik satellite development team, said that they anxiously waited for news about the rocket launch from the European spaceport in Kourou that night. ‘Exactly at 4.51 a.m., the carrier rocket was launched with 53 satellites on board. Now, a few hours after launch, we have received confirmation that all satellites have exited the rocket and Hämarik has reached orbit.
The Vega rocket launch can be watched again on Arianespace’s YouTube channel.
Koit, the first student satellite of TalTech, was launched from Russia on 5 July 2019.
Koit and Hämarik are 1U CubeSats (10 × 10 × 10 cm). Both were built to monitor Earth from space – the satellites take pictures and videos to track events, map Earth, and monitor vegetation. The satellites have two remote-sensing cameras, one of which captures colour images (RGB) and the other near-infrared (NIR) images. The satellites can be used, for example, to analyse the viability of forests and fields or the quality of the marine environment over space and time.
Urmas Kõlli from AS Datel confirmed: ‘We currently only use a fraction of the potential of space in our economy. In recent years, AS Datel has contributed to Earth remote sensing development projects. We commend TalTech for raising new generations of engineers in Estonia who are more and more familiar with space technologies.’
The satellite programme of TalTech was launched in 2014. The satellite programme covers the whole of TalTech and it is an international and interdisciplinary initiative, to which research and business partners from Estonia and abroad have contributed. Satellite development and subsystems testing took place in 2016–2018. The Koit and Hämarik satellites were completed in 2019 and Koit was launched into orbit on 5 July 2019. After that, Hämarik was retested; for example, it underwent vibration and impact tests and as a result, its components and subsystems were made more reliable.
Over the course of six years, more than 150 students have participated in the satellite programme and gained experience in various fields.
The satellite programme of TalTech is supported by AS Datel, AS Telegrupp, Mediq Eesti OÜ, Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS, AS CGI Eesti, Stoneridge Electronics AS, and Madis Kaal. The cooperation partners of the programme are IB Krates OÜ, KBFI, Observatory of the University of Tartu, PERH, Brandner PCB OÜ, Satrian Aerospace OÜ, Radius Space OÜ.