Laila Kaasik

University of Tartu’s second student satellite ESTCube-2 now completed and leaving Estonia

The ESTCube-2 satellite, developed by students at the University of Tartu’s Tartu Observatory, has successfully passed all space tests and will now be sent to the Arianespace launch company, where it will be mounted on the launch vehicle. On 16 November, the satellite engineers, sponsors and other supporters of the project gathered at the Tallinn TV Tower to celebrate the beginning of the satellite’s journey. After the event, almost none of them will be able to access the satellite. 

For the ESTCube team, this was a highly anticipated event. After the months-long testing period, all the preparations are complete. Now they can wait for the successful launch of the carrier from the European Cosmodrome in French Guiana. From there, ESTCube-2 will begin its journey aboard Arianespace’s Vega-C rocket at the beginning of the next year. 

“We are hoping for the successful launch of Vega-C. We have been working hard towards that for years,” said Kristo Allaje, Principal Systems Engineer of ESTCube-2 at the Space Technology Department of Tartu Observatory of the University of Tartu. Hans Teras, General Project Manager and Junior Research Fellow in Space Technology of Tartu Observatory, added, “It is like a farewell, but also the start of the real mission and the story of Estonia’s next satellite. When ESTCube-2 reaches the height of 560 km, it starts to send us daily updates on its activities, measurements, and certainly photos.” 

The ESTCube-2 satellite platform was developed at the Tartu Observatory of the University of Tartu, where, according to Director Antti Tamm, all researchers, engineers and other staff were involved in completing the satellite. “ESTCube-2 is, in its complexity, a landmark space project for the observatory and for the entire Estonia. It confirms that Estonia has fully joined the club of spacefaring countries,” said Tamm. 

ESTCube is a students’ science project. During the project, Estonia’s first satellite ESTCube-1 was launched into space in 2013; it collected a wealth of scientific data during its two-year mission. In ESTCube-2, students are also responsible for most of the development. Still, they are advised by researchers of the University of Tartu and various research-intensive companies. 

You can follow the satellite’s progress in the Arianespace laboratory and, after the launch, on the Earth’s orbit on ESTCube’s social media channels.

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