A year ago, Reshetnev University, together with twelve other leading aerospace universities in the country, entered the space program implemented by the Bortnik Foundation. Within the framework of this project, called "Duty on the Planet", small spacecraft with unique functions are being designed and put into orbit. How is the work on the creation of the kubsat going, how will it be involved in the work of the Yenisei Siberia SEC and what does the Krasnoyarsk schoolchildren have to do with it-in the comments of Dmitry Zuev, a graduate student at Reshetnev University, an employee of the Small Spacecraft laboratory.

Tight Orbit

- Dmitry, does anyone know how many satellites are in near-Earth space today?

- For example, they are tracked by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). They spread out the coordinates of the satellites, and this is already on the order of several thousand. Elon Musk alone has brought out more than 1,500 devices to date. Despite the fact that before that there were already about more than three thousand working satellites. OneWeb is deploying 600 satellites, other structures are involved.


- It turns out that anyone wanted and launched their satellite? How is this regulated?

- There are regulators in every country. At the very least, first you need to register radio frequencies, get the right to use them. In foreign practice, there is also a requirement that the satellite should be reduced to low altitudes after operation, so that it burns up in the atmosphere, or put into a burial orbit. When launching into a geostationary orbit, there should be places for the satellite, because it is the busiest and most popular, so there are rules for allocating slots. The stationary orbit is the most popular for communication and television satellites. There are not very many places in this orbit anymore.

- Is that why smaller satellites have more prospects? What is considered a small spacecraft?

- They have different sizes. The largest are just geostationary satellites-communication satellites, remote sensing satellites (remote sensing of the earth). In the museum of Reshetnev University, you can see them in full size. They can sometimes weigh several tons!

Small spacecraft are considered by mass. Abroad, those that are less than 500 kg are considered small, in our country-less than a thousand kg. This is about the size of a standard refrigerator.


The one we are making is 30 cm by 10 cm by 10 cm in size. The small device is a common name, in English - small satellites (the international slang term smallsats). This is everything that is less than 500 kg. And then the division begins-minisatellites, microsatellites, nanosatellites, picosatellites. We have a nanosatellite, it falls into the category from 1 to 10 kg

- How did Reshetnev University get into the program of the Bortnik Foundation?

- A couple of years ago, the Sirius Center in Sochi launched two cubesats, which were assembled with the participation of schoolchildren. It was a test of the pen, and as a result, the Russian Bortnik Foundation (the Fund for Assistance to the Development of Small Forms of Enterprises in the Scientific and Technical Sphere) announced a space program, notified all universities. Naturally, we submitted an application. A positive answer came for us and for 12 other Russian universities, including, for example, Moscow State University, Tyumen, etc. And all the hundred will be created by universities. It is also important that the Foundation recently announced the extension of this program for another 3 years and plans to launch another 100 devices! This opens up new prospects!

We started working in November 2020. As part of this project, students will work with this device for another year. Then the device will already work according to another experimental program, which again can be determined by schoolchildren. We have created opportunities to conduct new experiments on board, reconfiguring its operation with the help of new software.

We are preparing a shift!

- The project is linked to schoolchildren!?

- This is the main condition of the competition. The Bortnik Foundation wants to attract a large number of schoolchildren to space activities. Therefore, the main task of these satellites is to provide tools to school teams so that they can receive data from space, process it, and draw some conclusions.

- Who are these schoolchildren?

- These are schoolchildren of our Krasnoyarsk Territory, students of the school of cosmonautics, the aerospace school, the quantorium. They have already registered for the program as teams, these are our first students. This is 20-30 people plus a few more classes of secondary schools, who sometimes come on excursions, listen to our lectures, and in the future will create their own teams. We will expand this work. How will the guys work with kubsat? When the data from the launched device goes, schoolchildren will process them, do their scientific projects, and use the data from Kubsat.

- Do they have a real interest?

- Yes, there are such people! Although most people have an understandable fear that it is difficult, difficult. But we have curators - students, teachers, graduate students of our university. They will work with students, help them.

ReshuUCube Space Laboratory

- Tell us more about the satellite, what is it intended for? - We named our satellite ReshuUCube (Reshetnev University Cubesat). Strictly speaking, our satellite is a space laboratory. A large number of sensors and special equipment are installed on it. A wide range of experiments can be carried out on its basis, including radiation monitoring. There are processors there, whose failures can be monitored, a lot of thermal sensors, you can watch how, for example, heat generation of processors occurs, heat spreads over the payload itself. We will have a camera, we will have a magnetometer...

But what is the uniqueness of the device? The bottom line is that usually a space mission is tailored to a specific task. We made an experiment and that's it – the satellite is not needed, it is destroyed. And our concept is that we have a lot of experiments, and they are being reconfigured. That is, we can write a new software and pour it on board so that it reconfigures the operation of the sensors for some experiment. The first stage of experiments was carried out, we got the result, now the toolkit is free, you can do something next, or make some changes to the previous one.


For example, we studied the heat dissipation of processors, the number of memory failures depending on radiation. Then we can fill in new software or, for example, test the compression of information, or the failures of a certain part of the processors, configure physical sensors so that they measure some parameter synchronously.


Is forest monitoring included in its functionality?

- There is a camera there for this purpose. What was it Armstrong said - this is a small step for me, but a big step for humanity? It turns out that this is our first small step, and then we will develop this movement. Since the Bortnik Foundation has announced that it will extend the program, we will participate!


- The issue of forest monitoring is not accidental. Reshetnev University is a participant of the climate project of the REC "Yenisei Siberia", and it is logical to use our satellite for the purposes of this project!

- The fact is that in Russia the grouping of meteorological satellites is quite small and is in the process of expanding. In the United States, for example, this case is widely staged. There are many commercial companies with their own groupings of small satellites, which even count under 100 cubesats. They collect meteorological information and then sell it, and analytics based on this data, too. There are many home weather stations that send data to meteorologists on the Internet so that they have information for forecast models.

We need to start with the satellite, so that later on the basis of existing experience we can solve the problem. If they set the task of monitoring space weather or weather data, we will solve it!

It's coming soon!

- How much more time is there for the project?

- Very tight deadlines, the launch is in a few months. According to our sleepless eyes, it is clear that we are now working 24 by 7!


- A big team?

- About ten people are employees of the research and production laboratory "Small spacecraft". The process of creating a spacecraft is not easy, so several other laboratories and departments are involved: the Department of Technical Physics, the Department of Information Technology Security, the Plaschem laboratory, the Student Mission Control Center. I would say, not the laboratory "Small spacecraft", but the laboratory "Small spacecraft and friends".


- Is this your first satellite?

- I have been working on this topic since the third year of my bachelor's degree. But the first one will fly

- What does the flight process itself look like?

- A large satellite will fly. The rocket has a mass reserve, and you can place launch containers on it, such a spring pistol.

The cubesat is loaded there, the lid is closed. When the rocket flies, everything will be on the upper stage. At the right moment, there will be a command to open the covers. Our satellites will be pushed out, and the big satellite will fly further to the orbit it needs

Such a flight on a rocket is called ride sharing or piggyback (from the English "on the shoulders"). In Russian, it is called "launch by passing cargo". Large spacecraft are flying on a rocket and several small vehicles are added there in addition

- Is there a guarantee for the period of activity? How many years is it designed for?

- It will take 2-3 years before its combustion in the upper atmosphere. This is the physical limit. I hope he will finalize it before that time. If you put the engine on, it will be better, but ... this is another task. For the launch, we have an intermediary Glavkosmos – one of the structures of Roscosmos . The Bortnik Foundation has an agreement with them. Naturally, there are many risks, the launch may move, something else, there are always risks in space activities. But we will still take this small step for the sake of big steps in the future!

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