On 13 February 2012 the first Polish student satellite – PW-Sat – was launched into Earth orbit. It all started in 2004 when the idea for such device was born among the students of Warsaw University of Technology. Seven years later PW-Sat was ready thanks to passionate students and scientists from Space Research Center.
PW-Sat deorbited on 28th of October 2014 after 2 years, 8 months and 15 days on orbit.
PW-Sat’s main task was to test the innovative deorbitation system in form of long tail expanded behind the satellite. Similarly to the current solution, it was supposed to greatly increase satellite’s drag area and quicken orbit degradation. The tail was also covered with flexible solar arrays.
The luck was needed and ESA offered 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.
The communication with the satellite remained active for a few months after the launch. Due to the main task – quick deorbitation – the life time of materials and components used to build PW-Sat didn’t have to be long. After the half year of mission the satellite went into the hibernation state. During this time one of the commercial components failed and made impossible to send the tail opening command. PW-Sat2 won’t have to cope with such problems as it is planned to be completely autonomous and even in case of communication problem it will continue the mission.
Read also on ESA – Meet the teams: PW-Sat