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Launch of TRISAT: University of Maribor in Space

​The University of Maribor held a press conference after the successful launch of the satellite TRISAT, which took place on Thursday, 3 September 2020, at 3:51 a.m. CET. After more than a decade of research and development, the University of Maribor (UM) has, together with the Slovenian company SkyLabs, successfully launched the first Slovenian satellite, which had been fully designed, constructed and assembled in the Republic of Slovenia. The event was attended by Zdravko Počivalšek, Slovenian Minister of Economic Development and Technology; prof. dr. Zdravko Kačič, Rector of the University of Maribor; doc. dr. Boštjan Vlaovič, Vice-Dean for Education at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Maribor; doc. dr. Iztok Kramberger, head of the TRISAT project from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Maribor and dr. Tomaž Rotovnik, director of SkyLabs d.o.o.

 

The satellite, TRISAT, was successfully deployed from the carrier rocket on the 3 September 2020 at 5:33 CET and launched in low earth sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 530 km. Thus, the TRISAT mission reached a milestone, namely half of its planned route.

 

After the first launch was cancelled due to the unfortunate VV15 flight of the Vega carrier rocket in July last year, the second launch in March this year was also cancelled, due to COVID-19 pandemic. Later, the unfavourable upper level wind direction toward the mainland of French Guiana, from where the VEGA carrier rocket was launched into space, caused a series of delays in the launch several times in June this summer, as there was a possibility that, in case of a flight mistake, parts of the carrier and cargo could fall on the mainland. With regard to the weather conditions, the flight VV16 was approved on Monday, 31 August. It was successfully carried out on the night of Wednesday to Thursday.

 

With this important milestone in the history of the Slovenian nation, Slovenia has become one of the space nations. This is a remarkable achievement of Slovenian science, technology and economy, as we have dared to enter space, develop new breakthrough technologies for this purpose, push the global limits of miniaturization and lay the foundations for new opportunities.

 

The contracting authority of the TRISAT satellite is the European Space Agency, with the University of Maribor as the primary contractor together with the Slovenian company SkyLabs, which provided the primary load in the form of hyperspectral camera in the shortwave infrared range. It is a global innovation in remote Earth observation. If the second part of the mission is carried out as planned, Slovenia can expect a completely new research infrastructure of exceptional national importance in space, intended for remote Earth observation. Hyperspectral remote sensing method applications are not yet well researched in this part of the light spectrum. New infrastructure in the form of a satellite, which is expected to be available in orbit for the next six years, and its ground station will be fully managed by the University of Maribor. Space infrastructure under our own management will allow us to test and use a wide range of contemporary remote monitoring applications planetwide. Possible applications which are yet to be explored range from monitoring the state of pollution, vegetation patterns and fires to volcanic dust detection. Another aspect to emphasize is the educational aspect directed towards the education of Slovenian space engineers and consequent staffing for the rapidly growing Slovenian space economy.

 

By creating new breakthrough technologies, by technological development and preservation of knowledge in Slovenia, we ensure sustainable development from a scientific, educational and economic perspective. As an example, the University of Maribor has already obtained a new contract with the European Space Agency for the construction of a new satellite, TRISAT-R, which is expected to be deployed in orbit at an altitude of 6000 km next March. Globally, it is the first such attempt of launching a nanosatellite into medium earth orbit, where the radiation environment is extremely harsh. The purpose of the TRISAT-R satellite is the implementation of systematic measurements of radiation activity in this orbit with various instruments. The measurements will enable the analysis of space weather in these orbits, since it affects many ground applications and processes, including the accuracy of satellite navigation, which is extremely important for air traffic. The construction of the new satellite, TRISAT-R, has begun in January this year with the signing of the contract with ESA and is expected to be completed in September. TRISAT-R will be powered by the platform of the Slovenian company SkyLabs, while the satellite's load will include instruments of the University of Maribor, CERN, SkyLabs and ESE. Parts of TRISAT-R are already fully constructed and are currently being tested. Afterwards, the satellite will be assembled and attached to the carrier rocket VEGA-C.

 

On this occasion, the University of Maribor and the TRISAT team express their particular gratitude to the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology for its full support and successful cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Slovenian company SkyLabs for the joint design and implementation of platform systems and the Slovenian company Riedl Aerospace for the construction of all mechanical parts.

 

The position and status of TRISAT satellite can be monitored live in Slovenian and English on the following website: www.trisat.um.si. The following link will take you to the promotional TRISAT video in Slovenian and English: www.trisat.um.si/trisat-video.

 



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