The VEGA-C rocket flew, TRISAT-R in space
The first Slovene launch vehicle VEGA-C with the TRISAT-R satellite on board has successfully flown into space on 13 July 2022. The launch was planned at 13:13, but a minute before the launch it was postponed to 14:13. After another attempt, it was finally successfully launched at 15:13 CET.
The event at the launch of the satellite was attended by Matjaž Han, Minister of Economic Development and Technology; prof. dr. Zdravko Kačič, Rector of the University of Maribor; prof. dr. Gorazd Štumberger, Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; doc. dr. Iztok Kramberger, leader of the TRISAT project at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as well as dr. Tomaž Rotovnik, director of SkyLabs d.o.o.
Separating the satellite from the launch vehicle and sending it in the middle Earth orbit at an altitude of 6,000 km, was successfully implemented at 17:24. Establishing communication with the satellite for the first time is planned at one o’clock in the night.
The new Slovene satellite TRISAT-R is the first institutional demonstrational mission which is primarily carried out by the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Maribor under the contract with ESA and in cooperation with CERN and the Slovene company SkyLabs. The underlying purpose of the TRISAT-R satellite is to perform valuable measurements of ionising radiation in the medium Earth orbit with the aim of modelling the magnetosphere environment and to better understand space weather. At the same time (as technological demonstration), it presents the technological capabilities of Slovene high technological know-how and Slovene breakthrough technologies as well as achievements of Slovenian companies in the field of space technologies. We must also take into account the aspect of education, which is oriented towards educating Slovene space engineers and the resulting provision of human resources for a fast-growing Slovene space economy.
At the University of Maribor, we are especially proud of the project pertaining to the development of space technologies, since in a very short time, that is in less than ten years, we have managed, together with the company SkyLabs, to move from an idea on developing a satellite to a successful launch of the already second satellite in the row. What is more, according to technological achievements in this mission we have managed to take our place alongside the two leading European space nations, the French and the Italian, where together we will put into orbit nanosatellites for the very first time. Together with SkyLabs we have managed to integrate into TRISAT-R the latest technological achievements which are the result of our joint development and which, according to information of the European Space Agency, are in this segment also envied by NASA. prof. dr Zdravko Kačič, Rector of the University of Maribor
I am pleased that we were able to witness together the successful journey of the third Slovene satellite TRISAT-R into the middle Earth orbit. I was honoured, because it is a great achievement of Slovene science and companies that are able to put these scientific findings into practice. I would also like to highlight the important role of the University of Maribor, especially of doc. dr. Iztok Kramberger, in inspiring and leading young experts to engage in the field of space more actively. Knowledge, activation of young experts and above all transferring this knowledge to companies are crucial. And exactly this satellite is a model example of good cooperation between economy and science. I wish that such cooperation and activities in the field of space would increase. The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology will continue to provide active support for this sector, also in close cooperation with ESA and international as well as domestic partners. Matjaž Han, Minister of Economic Development and Technology
The new satellite that we managed to assemble in less than six months is in many respects the first, the first on a global scale. We were the first in the world to fly into space the new RISC-V process core, which, according to information of the European Space Agency, is also envied by NASA. We were the first in the world to fly into space an instrument that was developed in cooperation by the European Space Agency and CERN. We are also one of the first nanosatellites in the middle Earth orbit and according to the European Space Agency also the most important. We were the first to fly printed mechanical parts the qualification of which was extremely challenging into such a demanding environment. Among our outstanding innovations are also two miniature colour cameras and if we are successful in our future work, we will be able to take pictures of the Earth 6,000 km away with such a small satellite.doc. dr. Iztok Kramberger, TRISAT project leader
Regarding education, the TRISAT projects are laying the foundations for the education of Slovene space engineers, by providing valuable experience that will be transferred to future generations of students, future engineers, for the needs of the fast-growing Slovene economy in the field of space technologies. prof. dr. Gorazd Štumberger, Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of UM
Today’s flight of the new Vega-C launch vehicle into the radiation-intensive medium Earth orbit and the TRISAT-R mission will additionally contribute to demonstrating the capacity of the SkyLab’s technological space solutions and managing space technology. Invaluable information received from the TRISAT-R satellite will enable us the development of even better, more robust technological solutions, suitable also for remote planets.dr. Tomaž Rotovnik, director of SkyLabs d.o.o.
Experience and knowledge acquired by researchers in TRISAT, a satellite that was launched into space in September 2020, have contributed to the creation of its successor. TRISAT-R is thus an improved version of the TRISAT satellite, with which they have set out on a journey even deeper into space and sent there a bunch of Slovene technological innovations.
The TRISAT-R satellite is based on a platform with an extremely high level of miniaturisation and is entirely designed, planned and manufactured in the Republic of Slovenia. What is more, according to its weight of 4965 g and size 30 x 10 x 10 cm, it falls within the nanosatellite category with a standard size of three units.
The satellite will be moving in the very heart of ionosphere in medium Earth orbits at an altitude of 6,000 km– in an environment with extremely increased ionising radiation. Due to the high Earth orbit and the level of radiation in this orbit, after its railing and new life cycle, the TRISAT-R satellite will not move closer to our planet Earth and burn out but will slowly move away from the Earth and stay in space forever. By doing so, Slovenes will get a small, but eternal monument in space.
This time, Slovenes share this outstanding step of humankind with only two leading European space nations. The main load on the Vega-C rocket is the Italian satellite Lares-2 and beside the TRISAT-R satellite there were also five other miniature satellites aboard the Vega-C rocket which are the result of Italian and French knowledge.
“Technological innovations must in no way overshadow all the efforts and hard work of the team members who enabled Slovenes to take such an important step on a global scale,” pointed out the project leader at the event and expressed his gratitude to all members of the TRISAT team at our Faculty as well as in the company SkyLabs. “I am very proud of you and in my opinion, you are an elite group of the best engineers and researchers which Slovenia has to offer. You are a team that really worked hard in these last few months and completed its task very professionally.”
At the event, doc. dr. Kramberger expressed his gratitude to the Office for Cooperation with the European Space Agency at the Ministry for Economic Development and Technology, the Association of Radio Amateurs of Slovenia, the Agency for Communication Networks and Services as well as the company Riedl Aerospace for all the help and cooperation in the project.
The position and state of the TRISAT-R satellite is streamed live in Slovene and English at www.trisat.um.si.
A successful flight into space is of course only the initial step of the new TRISAT-R mission since there are still some key challenges and hard work ahead of the team. It is namely an extremely risky mission, not only due to the great distance from Earth, but also due to the extremely radiation intensive environment.