Poland joined to the European Space Agency in 2012 as a full state member, what was a very important step in the state development. In the same year, Poland joined to the satellite community with its very first satellite. What’s so important – that was educational – university satellite. Why it is so important to build university satellites? So far Poland did not have any other research centers funded by the State but the Space Research Center of Polish Academy of Science. But because Poland joined to ESA, a need to start the State developing process has begun. Which in turn means that in near future the large group of space engineers will be needed within Poland.
How can we get the professional experience before we will start to work? It is contradict requirements of the employers. Most of employers who offer jobs, require at least few years of experience, but it is impossible to get this experience without sufficient heritage, for example gathered in student projects.
That is a point where a state policy and business as well education purposes meet. To gather sufficient knowledge and human resources it is a need to concern on the educational projects which begun a new era of space exploration as well as space business development within Poland. Starting from parabolic flight campaign through SSETI Express, ESEO, ESMO to the CubeSat project there is a wide range of possibilities which were used by Polish students to enhance their knowledge and experiences in the matter of space exploration – which was in fact their deepest dreams.
What is the best way to become a well experienced young generation space engineer? The answer is not so easy, but Polish students found their answer. They decided to make a great leap into the future with the PW-Sat project.
It was started in 2004 at the Warsaw University of Technology by members of the Students’ Space Association. The PW-Sat is a CubeSat (1U) and it was supposed to be the very first Polish satellite.
The luck was needed and ESA offered to us a chance to launch our satellite on-board the Vega Maiden Flight as a part of education project at the Education Office of ESA. The chance was changed to a real mission which finally was accomplished. The satellite was launched on 13th February 2012. The main mission was accomplished – launch the very first Polish satellite and to educate young engineers in the field of space engineering as well other related topics.
After one year from PW-Sat launch Warsaw University of Technology students started to work on next PW-Sat2 project. We did a good job in previous project, we still have students who were participated in the PW-Sat project. After PW-Sat’s success we collected a team consisting of various faculties from Warsaw University of Technology including also international students. Having larger team and previous experience we can make the PW-Sat2 project two times bigger and much more advanced comparing to PW-Sat.
The main project goal is always student education. Excepting the possibility to gather the important experience from working on the advanced satellite project there also other education opportunities like bachelor and master thesis on some of satellite payloads or engineering design aspects. The opportunity to build and test some of innovative student solutions is also a great advantage of this kind of projects.
The PW-Sat2 mission is to test two innovative engineering solutions for deorbitation system and sun sensor device. Deorbitation system concept has been developed since the birth of project idea in 2004. The deorbitation system design is different than in previous version where we had a tail like structure. The PW-Sat2 deorbitation system will contain on a sail deployment structure made by shape-memory wires and Mylaar foil. One of the important lessons learnt from PW-Sat project is automatic mode possibility. If the communication system fails after one month, the satellite itself will complete the mission. Whereas sun sensor device was a bachelor thesis project of one of the students who take part in the project. It was a project of simple, low power consumption and high accuracy sensor for small satellites and university CubeSat missions. The new bachelor thesis, dedicated for PW-Sat2 mission and writing by one of our team member, is the project of solar panels deployment system. The additional payloads are two cameras, one pointed to Earth and another one to record sail deployment moment. The SSTV (Slow-Scan Television) transmission from cameras will be also available.
The project duration is approximately 2,5 year. The official beginning is 4th of January 2013. During this project we assume to educate more than 30 space engineers, about 10 students will make their diplomas and internship on PW-Sat2 payloads and subsystems. We believe that participation in this project will help students to fill the new workplaces in Polish space sector.