ESA conference about concurrent engineering

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Yesterday we had two in our management, Axel Widenfelt and Jimmy Gustavsson, talk at SECESA. A conference held by ESA, the European Space Agency, about concurrent engineering. They talked about how project APTAS came to be, how it’s managed and how we use concurrent engineering to build our satellite.

After the conference, Jimmy says:“It was very exciting to get the opportunity to speak about APTAS at a conference with so many great engineers. Talking at ESA has been a dream for both of us for many years. Just when we were about to start my heart sure was pounding, but we had put effort into this talk and directly after the first sentence the heart started to slow down. During the questions at the end of the talk it almost felt like a couch conversation. A great experience I won’t forget.”

We are very grateful to ESA for letting us be a part of the conference!

Back at campus

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We are back! After way to many months away from campus due to Covid-19, we are now aloud to be back at Space Campus. The first week is going by fast!

This Monday we got to present our project to the new international SpaceMaster-students that have arrived to Kiruna. We are recruiting at the moment and are hoping to get some of the new students as members of our team.

During the week we have had several workshops. Since Zoom has been our main channel for meeting during the last couple of months, it has been very good for the project to finally sit together again and solve our issues face to face. On Monday we had a workshop for the whole team, where we mainly discussed our whole design and configuration. Today the systems engineers Martin and Axel are sitting together to better understand how the components will be connected to each other. So many pins and connectors!

Engineering model and ground station equipment

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We have good news! After recently finishing up phase B, the preliminary design phase, we have ordered the first components for APTAS!

The components ordered are the most critical ones: a motherboard, an onboard computer and a transceiver for the engineering model, the first model out of three until we have the final satellite in our hands. The other two models are the qualification model and the flight model, which will consist of all the components.

From before we also have manufactured two antennas that are going to be used to test the communication equipment of the satellite. These have been manufactured by ourselves and are two little quarter-wavelength monopole horizontal groundplane antennas. Here you can see the metal part of the centerpiece being manufactured and how it looks nearly being finished.

Distance mode active

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Just as many other people during these uncertain Corona times, Project APTAS is also conducting distance mode. All universities in Sweden are having their education on distance and thereby we are doing the same. We have all of our meetings and working sessions online from home, which works fine for this phase we are in right now. To this point in the project, most of the things we do are on our computers. However, we will soon have to start ordering our components etc, which might become a problem. But for now, we are happy that we can work as much as we can from home.

Looking back at the working sessions at campus.

We want to end this post with some snowy pictures from one of our lunch walks, to remind everyone to get out in the fresh air and gain some new energy!

Finnish Satellite Workshop 2020

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The project managers Theresia and Martin traveled to Helsinki in Finland this week together with their supervisors to attend the Finnish Satellite Workshop at Aalto University. This is an yearly event with over 500 participants with a program filled with presentations, networking and learning opportunities.

For Project APTAS, this was an opportunity to be able to talk face to face to several of the component suppliers and launch brokers that we have been talking to just via e-mail before as well as explore new companies. This was the first experience for the team at an event like this and a great opportunity to get familiar with the whole satellite network.

During the Tuesday Theresia and Martin got the chance to hold a presentation at the big stage about the project. A lot of good questions and tips came from the audience afterwards.

Before leaving the workshop, the team got to see Aalto University’s own CubeSat lab. A lot of inspiration for our own NanoSat lab that APTAS are using. The tour ended with a look at their ground station and the antennas on the roof.

We are taking with us a lot of inspiration from these couple of days and are looking forward to the upcoming time for the project. Let’s build a satellite!

We enter phase B

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Project APTAS ‘s timeline follows the ECSS (European Cooperation for Space Standardization) standard ECSS-M-ST-10C for space missions. This means that the project is divided into different phases with different work packages for each phase that ends with a review. The beginning phase, phase 0, was all about building a stable foundation and make a mission analysis. Just before Christmas we had the review for phase A, Preliminary Requirements Review. During this phase we analyzed a lot of concepts regarding the mission and took a look into the feasibility. This week we have entered a phase that we look very much forward to: Preliminary design. The design of the satellite will finally start to take form.

Phase 0: Mission analysis (Mission Definition Review)
Phase A: Feasibility study (Preliminary Requirements Review)
Phase B: Preliminary design (Systems Requirements Review and Preliminary Design Review)
Phase C: Detailed design (Critical Design Review)
Phase D: Production and qualification (Qualification Review, Acceptance Review and Operational Readiness Review)
Phase E: Operation (Flight Readiness Review, Launch Readiness Review, Commissioning Result Review and End-of-Life Review)

This is Project APTAS

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Project APTAS, Atmospheric Polar Transmission Alignment Satellite, is a student project at Luleå University of Technology, with the goal to design, build, launch and operate a CubeSat. The team consists of 14 members which all are students at the space engineering program at LTU. A project like this has never been done from LTU before, which makes the project unique and rises the university’s position as a space university. The launch to space is planned for the second half of 2021.


The payload will consist of an antenna to be used for calibration of the planned EISCAT 3D research project and an instrument for aurora imaging developed together with The Institute of Space Physics (IRF).

EISCAT, European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association, is a scientific association that operates several radio telescopes in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Their new project, EISCAT 3D, is a new way of observing the atmosphere over big volumes. Their EISCAT 3D will be ready for operation by 2021. The EISCAT instrument on the satellite shall consist of a transmitter designed to provide a reliable calibration signal for the ground based antennas.

The other instrument is a nadir pointing camera that takes photos of auroras while flying over the poles. The data will contribute to the aurora research taking place at IRF.

The team

The team contains of 14 students at the Space Engineering program at Luleå University of Technology placed at Space Campus in Kiruna. The Management team is Theresia Hestad (Head), Martin Elfvelin and Axel Widenfelt. The team have supervisors: Chris Nieto (PhD-student) and Aris Golemis (Research engineer).