ESTCube-1 Reaches Orbit, Estonia Becomes 41st Space Nation
Estonia's first satellite, ESTCube-1, was rocketed off to orbit the Earth on Tuesday at 05:06, after strong winds had caused setbacks, postponing the initial planned launch date on Saturday.
Estonia has thus become the 41st nation to have a manmade object in space, beating out Finland and the other Baltic countries, all of which are due to launch their first satellites in the coming years.
The nanosatellite reached orbit at around 07:06 Estonian time. Launched from the Guiana Space Center, ESTCube-1 was carried by the launch vehicle Vega and was accompanied by two other satellites, Europe's Proba V and Vietnam's VNREDSat 1A.
The ESTCube-1 team said on its Facebook page that everything went according to plan and that the satellite will first come into view in Estonia at 10:30 today.
One of the project's leaders, Tartu Observatory senior researcher Mart Noorma, watched the launch live at Arianspace.tv.
"I am very proud to be seeing all these students here who are watching their handiwork of five years," Noorma said.
Speaker of Parliament Ene Ergma, an astrophysicist by training who was in French Guiana to observe the launch, said Estonia is now a "tiny space country."
"It's a really big deal in my opinion," she said.
University students had been developing the nanosatellite since 2008 and preparations for the project were made even earlier. ESTCube-1 is now due to carry out innovative solar wind experiments.