LituanicaSAT-2 Satellite MissionSatellite Missions
Following the success of the Lithuanian satellite mission LituanicaSAT-1, NanoAvionics together with Vilnius University took another ambitious step by launching LituanicaSAT-2 satellite. LituanicaSAT-2 is a 3U CubeSat intended for the scientific mission of the “QB50” – a constellation of 50 CubeSats. The “QB50” project is led by the Von Karman Institute (VKI) for fluid dynamics (Belgium), under the European Commission’s research and innovation program FP7 (2007-2013). The project involves 50 institutions all over the world each building their CubeSats that were launched into space during the “QB50” mission.
The scientific aim of “QB50” is to carry out atmospheric research within the lower thermosphere (altitude between 200 and 500 km), which is the least explored layer of the atmosphere.
Despite direct “QB50” aim, LituanicaSAT-2 mission is particularly important for NanoAvionics, because the innovative propulsion system prototype for small satellites developed by NanoAvionics was tested during this mission. The test was run successfully and the results can be found in the dedicated press release.
LituanicaSAT-2 at Small Satellite 2015
This mission is designed to provide long-term multipoint, in-situ measurements. The scientific contribution of the LituanicaSAT-2 will be to accomplish the molecular Oxygen measurements Flux-Φ-Probe Experiment (FIPEX).
Following a rigorous testing programme, the LituanicaSAT-2 with satellite number LT01 was launched by the PSLV launch vehicle on 23rd of June, 2017. The satellite was deployed in the sun-synchronous orbit, at an altitude of 507 km.
LituanicaSAT-2 Satellite Bus
LituanicaSAT-2 is commanded by NanoAvionics SatBus 3C1 which is a main system bus unit based on high-performance, low power consumption STM ARM Cortex 32 bit architecture that integrates 3 in 1 functionality on a single board:
- The on-board computer (OBC) is responsible for telemetry data relay and commands for science and propulsion units.
- The attitude determination and control system (ADCS) de-tumbles the satellite after the deployment and points the satellite in the right attitude in order to meet mission requirements. It is based on 3-axis magnetic actuators and 4 sun sensors. The attitude control accuracy is up to 5°.
- The communication system (COMM) is responsible for two-way communication with the ground station, working in the UHF band.
LituanicaSAT-2 FIPEX Sensor
The FIPEX sensor which is intended to gather information about atomic oxygen density in the lower thermosphere so contributing to the scientific “QB50” aim. FIPEX is able to collect measurements about the time resolved behavior of the oxygen. In order to distinguish between atomic oxygen and molecular oxygen, sensor elements with different cathode materials are used. The measurements obtained will be crucial for validating atmospheric models.
LituanicaSAT-2 Porpulsion System Prototype
The propulsion unit of LituanicaSAT-2 is running on a non-toxic “green” monopropellant based on ammonium dinitramide (ADN) blend is able to perform high impulse orbital maneuvers and compensate drag. The “green” monopropellant used for the LituanicaSAT-2 mission is able to outperform hydrazine, which is used worldwide.
In order to manage the thermal properties of the propellant in space, the propulsion system includes an active thermal management system of the pressurized tanks as well as propellant management systems to ensure the smooth flow of blend. Furthermore, the micro-thruster assembly contains a pre-heater of the catalyst bed which allows to provide a maximum thrust of 0.3N.
LituanicaSAT-2 Solar Panels and Power Unit
The power generation of LituanicaSAT-2 is provided by 4 fixed and 4 deployable mono crystalline silicon solar panels custom designed and manufactured by NanoAvionics. The panels are able to reach an efficiency of 20% which provides the anticipated voltage and power outputs to charge batteries of the CubeSat Electric Power Supply (EPS). The purpose of the EPS is to provide enough electrical power to the rest of the sub-systems so that the satellite is able to function throughout the mission.
Following the CubeSat standard, the LituanicaSAT-2 structure is custom designed by NanoAvionics and manufactured locally. The structure is made of 7075 aluminium alloy with hard anodized surfaces. The structure also includes deployment elements in order to accommodate solar panels.
- Definition of the satellite mission objectives December 2011 – May 2012
- Project acceptance date: 18 July 2012 (Letter of Acceptance)
- Critical Design Review: 04 May 2014
- Cooperation agreement between Vilnius University and NanoAvionics: 28 October 2014
- Satellite engineering module subsystem-level testing: June-September 2015
- Satellite engineering model assembly (Without Propulsion System): August 2015
- Satellite engineering model functional test campaign: November 2015 – February 2016
- Propulsion system functional test campaign: December 2015 – April 2016
- Satellite flight model environmental and functional test campaign: March 2016 – December 2016
- Flight Readiness Review: March 2017
- Satellite delivery to project organizers: April 2017
- Launch of the PSLV C-38 rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, with LituanicaSAT-2 onboard: 23rd of June, 2017
- The first LituanicaSAT-2 signal was received from WA (US): 23rd of June
- The chemical propulsion system was successfully tested in-orbit: 5th of July, 2017