Estonia's first satellite carries a tether for testing the electric sail

May 8, 2013

ESTCube-1, Estonia's first satellite, was successfully launched into orbit. The purpose of the satellite is to measure the electric sail effect. The Finnish Meteorological Institute bears the main responsibility for the payload.

Using a Vega rocket, Estonia's first satellite ESTCube-1 was successfully launched into orbit early Tuesday morning from Europe's in Kourou, French Guiana. After the launch, everything has proceeded according to plan. ESTCube-1 is orbiting the Earth and a radio link has been established with the satellite.

The main payload of the , which weighs about one kilogram, consists of a 10-metre electric sail tether and an electron gun used for charging the tether. The principal goal of the mission is to test the opening of the tether and to measure the electric sail effect in space by deploying the 10-metre tether and by charging it to 500 volts. The satellite also carries a camera for monitoring the behaviour of the tether in space and for taking images of the Earth.

If the electric sail principle works as planned, it will enable fast and economical transportation in the solar system without consuming any . It also offers an efficient way to prevent the accumulation of by bringing satellites back into the atmosphere once their service life is over.

The ESTCube-1 satellite was built by space technology students at Tartu University. The Finnish Meteorological Institute has the main responsibility for the electric sail payload. Important components were built at the Electronics Research Laboratory of the University of Helsinki (electric sail tether), the Accelerator Laboratory of the University of Jyväskylä (electron gun), the University of Eastern Finland (nanographite cathode for the electron gun), and at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) (motorised reel).

Explore further: YES2 student payload released from Foton-M3

Related Stories

YES2 student payload released from Foton-M3

September 25, 2007

The Second Young Engineers’ Satellite (YES2) was activated and separated from the Foton-M3 spacecraft earlier today. The tether deployed for 8.5 km, after which the Fotino capsule was released on its way to Earth.

EU project to build Electric Solar Wind Sail

December 9, 2010

The European union has selected the Finnish Meteorological Institute to lead an international space effort whose goal is to build the largest and fastest man-made device.

Snap-proof space tether

April 2, 2013

(Phys.org) —Space tethers hold intriguing potential for satellite manoeuvring, attitude control and even power generation. But about half of all orbital tether tests have either failed to deploy or snapped, probably due ...

European Vega rocket launch delayed due to weather

May 4, 2013

The launch Saturday of Europe's lightweight rocket, Vega, from Kourou in French Guiana was put off until an unspecified date because of poor weather conditions at the space base, the European Space Agency said.

Europe launches new satellites into space

May 7, 2013

Europe's lightweight rocket, Vega, was launched from Kourou space base in French Guiana late Monday for the first mission, webcast live, since its maiden flight in February last year.

Recommended for you

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

Earth flyby of 'space peanut' captured in new video

July 31, 2015

NASA scientists have used two giant, Earth-based radio telescopes to bounce radar signals off a passing asteroid and produce images of the peanut-shaped body as it approached close to Earth this past weekend.

Exoplanets 20/20: Looking back to the future

July 31, 2015

Geoff Marcy remembers the hair standing up on the back of his neck. Paul Butler remembers being dead tired. The two men had just made history: the first confirmation of a planet orbiting another star.

Binary star system precisely timed with pulsar's gamma-rays

July 31, 2015

Pulsars are rapidly rotating compact remnants born in the explosions of massive stars. They can be observed through their lighthouse-like beams of radio waves and gamma-rays. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.