The AlSat Nano, a CubeSat designed and built at the University of Surrey in just 18 months, has successfully captured and downloaded its first full-colour image. A major step forward in demonstrating the United Kingdom’s nanosatellite capability.
AlSat Nano (video above) is athe first joint nanosatellite mission between the UK Space Agency and Algerian Space Agency (ASAL).
The mission is part of an on-going initiative to enhance collaboration.
The UK Space Agency funded the design and build of the spacecraft at Surrey Space Centre (SSC). Algerian postgrad students at the University of Surrey used the craft as a hands-on learning exercise for to demonstrate the practical elements of low-cost space technology. While the Agence Spatiale Algerienne (ASAL) then provided the launch and operations facilities.
The image was taken by the Open University C3D2 instrument’s wide field camera on 3rd December 2016 over the Arkhangelsk Oblast region, on the North West coast of Russia.
The photograph was captured at dawn and shows the coastline to the top of the image and the winter sunrise over the arctic region with a deep red-brown hue.
The object in the foreground is the Oxford Space Systems Ltd AstroTubeTM Boom payload.
Director of Surrey Space Centre, Prof Guglielmo Aglietti, explained “AlSat Nano has been an exciting project for the Surrey Space Centre to be leading. Educational and research elements, and the technology knowledge transfer with the Algerian Space Agency were key parts of this project. Additionally, the development of this nanosatellite platform has been a great opportunity to work with UK payload providers, who are demonstrating some exciting new technologies.”
Dr Abdewahab Chikouche, Director of Space Programmes at Algerian Space Agency said “The Alsat-1N project is a concrete example of the success of our cooperation with UKSA. This project, very enriching from the scientific and technological point of view, allowed ASAL engineers to progress in the integration and testing of nanosatellites and acquire autonomy in its operation. This project will enable Algerian researchers and academics to strengthen national capabilities in advanced space technology.”
The craft itself is only the size of a shoebox but features all the main subsystems much larger satellites would have.
The mission has demonstrated how CubeSats can be assembled quickly and launched at a fraction of the cost of traditional satellites.
The AlSat Nano is Algeria’s only CubeSat mission to date and will help Algeria strengthen its domestic space technology capability by giving their scientists and engineers first-hand experience of CubeSat operations.
However, AlSat isn’t Surrey Space Centre only success story. The centre is involved with a range of on-going spacecraft missions involving not just CubeSats but larger scale missions. Including the game-changing RemoveDebris – a €15.2M mission led by Surrey which aims to be the world’s first demonstrations of space junk removal. It will launch later this year.