29 Jan 2021

6 Satellites Designed by İTÜ are in Orbit

The CubeSat ASELSAT 3U developed with the collaboration of Istanbul Technical University and ASELSAN was launched. Since 2005, 6 satellites developed by İTÜ Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics took their place in orbit.

News: İTÜ Media and Communication Office

We heard the story of the CubeSats from İTÜ Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics Faculty Member and Space Systems Design and Test Laboratory (İTÜ-USTTL) Director Prof. Dr. Alim Rüstem Aslan. Prof. Dr. Aslan said that CubeSats were introduced around 20 years ago to train astronautics students.

The door opening to space

Istanbul Technical University Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics launched Turkey’s first CubeSat İTÜpSAT1 in 2009 and received its first signals at İTÜ-USTTL ground station and Center for Satellite Communications and Remote Sensing (CSCRS) established at İTÜ. Likewise, all the tests for the satellite were carried out at İTÜ laboratories. With its studies since 2005, İTÜ Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics has produced and launched 6 CubeSats under the responsibility of İTÜ-USTTL. The Faculty is now transferring the experience it gained during this process to other countries.

İTÜ Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics faculty member and Space Systems Design and Test Laboratory Director Prof. Dr. Alim Rüstem Aslan stated that their main job is education and raising engineers who will contribute to our country and the world industry at the highest level and said, “These engineers are trained by personally experiencing processes of very complicated space technology projects from the initial idea phase to operation in orbit. These projects include multidisciplinary and multinational studies. With this aspect, the engineers acquire an additional dimension.”

6 satellites in 16 years

The studies initiated in 2005 gave their first fruit in 2009 and the first CubeSat produced in our country (also the first satellite made in and launched from Turkey) called İTÜpSAT1 was launched on September the 23rd. After this encouraging study, production of CubeSats continued with studies conducted at Space Systems Design and Test Laboratory in İTÜ Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a total of 6 CubeSats were placed in orbit until now.

Aslan told that all the tests for the first designed satellite were carried out in İTÜ laboratories and pursued as follows:

"After the first launched CubeSat, we continued the design of new CubeSats. As İTÜ, we arranged for 6 CubeSats that we designed to be placed in orbit in 16 years and this is a great achievement for our university. Recently, 3U CubeSat ASELSAT developed with the collaboration of ASELSAN and İTÜ was launched. ASELSAT CubeSat was successfully placed in orbit via SpaceX’s rocket. With 143 satellites being released into orbit simultaneously in a single launch, a new world record has been broken in this area. As İTÜ, we are proud to be a part of such a project. We have designed all the 6 CubeSats that we developed through domestic and national means. We designed everything from the look of the CubeSat to its flight with our project partners."

Prof. Dr. Aslan said that ASELSAT 3U CubeSat developed at İTÜ Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Systems Design and Test Laboratory together with the companies founded by İTÜ graduate engineers is the sixth and the last CubeSat that has been launched and told the story of the first CubeSat in our country as follows:

“When I was the department head, we thought with our dean at the time ‘How can we make applied space studies?’, ‘How can we prepare astronautical engineers for the industry?’, ‘How can we contribute to our country’s space studies?’. We did this especially in 2005, because in 2005 ‘Turkey’s Space Program’ was published by the Supreme Council for Science and Technology. This program was created by taking the opinions of everybody in Turkey through meetings from 2004 to 2005. As part of this program, we thought about what we can do to increase space-oriented activities and decided on the topic of ‘CubeSat’ with the suggestion of our dean. CubeSats had been started in 1999 by a few number of universities for education purposes and the first CubeSat launch trials were made in 2003.”

Seventh satellite "SharjahSat-1" is on the way

Prof. Dr. Aslan said that they are currently developing the seventh CubeSat under the name "SharjahSat-1" for Sharjah University in United Arab Emirates and that they are giving training to the university’s CubeSat group under the headings of satellite design, test, communications and ground stations within the framework of the project.

Aslan expressed that satellite development studies are being made jointly whereas tests will be implemented at İTÜ and noted that CubeSats can be designed and produced in a short time at an affordable cost. Aslan stated that the CubeSat they are designing for United Arab Emirates has 3U dimensions and a wide range of usage areas, and said, "Since CubeSats can be developed in large numbers and placed in orbit as teams owing to their affordable cost, they can collect data much more frequently. Thus, you can increase the temporal resolution in orbit thanks to CubeSats."

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