PW-Sat2 z otwartymi panelami słonecznymi. Autor renderu: Marcin Świetlik

PW-Sat2 with solar panels open. Author: Marcin Świetlik

Our project – PW-Sat2 – has come a long way since 2013 when the work started and we created our initial assumptions. When we look at our ideas from the beginnings of 2013 we smile at how amitious plan we had for PW-Sat2. Lately, we have finished the design phase and finished tweaking the technical documentation and now it is time to start testing the satellite. Of course, we have performed various smaller tests previously. However, what is ahead of us is much more complicated. We are just past the midpoint of our work and it is a good time to find the funds needed for the start. We need approximately €250 000.

Current vision

During last few months we have been finalizing the design of PW-Sat2. We had to resign from some of our ideas like additional solar panel on the bottom of the satellite or an Earth-observation camera because of the high costs and the complexity they were adding to the system. Current design of PW-Sat2 does not diverge significantly from what we decided in phase A; however it was phase B and the start of phase C that allowed the project to mature. Now it looks like this:

A 4 sq metres sail definitely dominates, however our cubesat will assume this configuration at the very end of the mission. Before that, during operation in orbit it will perform various tasks. On-board of PW-Sat2 there will be the following experiments:

  • Moveable solar panels (SADS)
  • Sun Sensor (SunS)
  • Star tracker

Beside these projects there are also a power supply system (EPS) and the whole structure of the satellite. Important obstacles that we must face are the thermal control of the satellite (TCS), attitude determination control system (ADCS) and the communication (including creation of ground station on EiTI department of the Warsaw University of Technology). We have discussed these as well as many other, smaller problems in our technical documentation which will be released soon on our website.

During the last few weeks we have conducted a series of workshops. We have discussed the detailed plan of the mission as well as the prelaunch tests schedule. As in any large project, many of the planned activities will change in time but for us the important fact is that we have a solid foundation for further work.

Funding and the launch

Since the beginning of the project we’ve known that it would be hard to send PW-Sat2 into space. We have received funding for design and creation of the satellite only. This year our funds obtained through PECS program will run out and we will have to look towards outside help. If it was possible to find funding for the start until the end of the year, we could still launch PW-Sat2 at the end of 2016 – that is the time needed after an advance payment to fulfill all the formal requirements tied to the launch.

We have asked the Ministry of Science and Higher Education for help. We have the support of Warsaw University of Technology Rector Jan Szmidt and Professor Piotr Wolanski, the supervisor of the Students’ Space Association. We hope that our petition will meet with a positive response from Minister Lena Kolarska-Bobinska and that we will receive at least partial funding.

Why do we consider mostly government and not fully commercial support? It is very hard to find a sponsor who is able to invest such a large sum of money into a student project. We are talking about 250 thousand euro, assuming the space industry does not experience unforeseen fluctuations. We have initial pricing evaluations so it would not be a problem to continue talks with any rocket operator. We are also thinking about funding from a few sponsors simultaneously.

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