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First Internet-built Student Satellite Launched

By Brian Trought
Epoch Times Ireland Staff
Oct 28, 2005

Technicians check data in the European Space Agency (ESA) Control Room.(Martin Oeser/AFP/Getty Images)
High-resolution image (2048 x 1406 px, 300 dpi)

The first Internet-built student satellite was launched on Thursday after hitching a ride on Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome booster rocket.

Twenty-three university groups from across Europe worked together via the Internet to jointly build the satellite, named the Student Space Exploration and Technology Initiative (SSETI Express), as part of an European Space Agency (ESA) program aiming to inspire and train Europe's future aerospace workers.

The satellite, which is about the size of a small washing machine, took off from the Plesetsk launch site in northern Russia at 6:52 GMT on a Kosmos 3M launcher and reached orbit minutes later.

A student ground control center at Denmark's Aalborg University picked up its signal less than two hours later, according to an ESA statement.

Carried inside SSETI were three extremely small student-built satellites, each weighing about one kilogram. Built by universities in Germany, Japan and Norway, these 'picosatellites' are to be ejected into space.

SSETI Express is to take picture of the Earth, function as a radio transponder and is also to test a cold-gas attitude control system.

According to the ESA, more than 400 European students have made an active, long-term contribution to this initiative, either as part of their degree course or in their spare time.

The SSETI Express satellite is the first spacecraft of three planned by the ESA.