Launch of Estonian student satellite Hämarik postponed again

Prepatations for the launch of the Vega booster rocket at the Guiana Space Center.
Prepatations for the launch of the Vega booster rocket at the Guiana Space Center. Source: AFP/Scanpix

The launch of the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) student satellite Hämarik was postponed again on Sunday morning as strong winds kept the booster rocket grounded in French Guiana.

The European Space Agency announced right before the planned launch that the Vega launch would be postponed to Monday morning. This is the second time the launch has been postponed as the initial June 19 launch was cancelled due to strong high atmosphere winds.

Vega is carrying, among other things, Estonian student satellite Hämarik (Dusk) developed and built by TalTech students and AS Datel. TalTech's first satellite Koit (Dawn) was launched from Russia in July of last year. Both Koit and Hämarik are 1U cube satellites measuring 10x10x10 centimeters, a spokesperson for TalTech said.

Vega is carrying a total of 53 items to be transported into space all of which are safe and sound, ESA reported.

Koit and Hämarik were built to survey the Earth from space. Both satellites have two remote sensing cameras one of which takes color (RGB) and the other near infrared (NIR) images. The latter can be used to analyze the condition of woods or fields or the quality of marine environments in both time and space.

Head of the satellite development team Rauno Gordon said such a small satellite has not been used for Earth monitoring before. It required special cameras, considerable computing power and high-speed data connection all of which the team needed to develop.

TalTech's satellite program started in 2014 and involves the entire university, serving as an international and interdisciplinary initiative to which research and business partners from Estonia and abroad have contributed. Testing of the satellite's development and subsystems took place in 2016-2018. Koit and Hämarik were completed in 2019, with the former sent to orbit on July 5, 2019. After the launch of its sister, Hämarik was tested again for vibration and impact and its components and subsystems rendered more robust.

The satellite program has seen the participation of over 150 students over a period of six years all of whom have gained new experience in different fields. The program gives students the opportunity to contribute in the field they know best, in everything from engineering to marketing.

TalTech satellite program sponsors include AS Datel, AS Telegrupp, Mediq Eesti OÜ, Estonian Air Navigation Services AS, AS CGI Estonia, Stoneridge Electronics AS. The program's cooperation partners are IB Krates OÜ, KBFI, University of Tartu Tõravere Observatory, North Estonian Medical Center, Brandner PCB OÜ, Satrian Aerospace OÜ, Radius Space OÜ.

Estonia's first satellite ESTCube-1 made by University of Tartu researchers and students was launched on May 7, 2013.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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