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UK Space Agency to launch miniature satellite 'UKube 1'


Artist's impression of 3u CubeSat in space. Photo: Clyde Space.

GLASGOW (BNS): The UK Space Agency has announced to design and launch CubeSat – a miniature, cube-shaped satellite that will allow the country to test new space technologies and carry out new space research.

Clyde Space Ltd will be developing a spacecraft platform for the one year pilot programme, named UKube 1.

Interested companies and academics are asked to come up with the most innovative ideas for designing payloads.

The company will launch the winning payloads on the satellite by mid 2011.

According to space officials, the Cubesats with a smaller size and lower complexity can be launched number of times in an economical way.

“A CubeSat programme will allow us to fast-track and test some of the UK’s new and cutting-edge space technology and perform unique science at a relatively low cost.” Dr David Williams, Chief executive (Acting) of the UK Space Agency, said.

"CubeSats provide a 'playground for innovation' by enabling us to test new technology that simply could not be tried on major risk-adverse missions. The concept also ensures that we can develop the next generation of space professionals, both in engineering and science, by giving them the ideal skill set to succeed in the industry", stated Dr Ronan Wall, Space Systems Engineer, Astrium, said.

The CubeSat missions will be mainly focused on studies that can be carried out at low-Earth orbits such as space weather studies, atmospheric science, energetic particle studies and spacecraft damage studies.

The low-Earth orbit of CubeSats is also ideal for disaster monitoring and Earth sciences, as the lower a satellite orbits, the less time it takes to complete a revolution of the Earth.

Constellations of Earth-monitoring CubeSats will be set up reasonably to be used in all kinds of applications, including bush-fire early warning, live maps and Tsunami warning.

Cubesats also lend themselves well to education and make an excellent tool for training the next generation of space engineers.

Tags:

satellite  UK  

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