The primary spacecraft in this mission is Unisat-5, a 40 kg microsatellite developed as a collaboration between Morehead State University, Kentucky Space, the University of Rome La Sapienzia Aerospace Engineering School and a commercial spin-off called the Group of Astrodynamics for the Use of Space Systems (GAUSS, Inc.). UniSat-5 was launched on a Dnepr rocket (a modified SS-18 ICBM) by the Kosmotras – a jointly held Russian-Ukrainian company that now manages the highly successful series of Dnepr Rockets.
The primary objectives of the UniSat-5 mission are to flight validate some novel space hardware (including a cutting-edge flight computer), launch several secondary payloads and extend training for university students. Students and staff of the Morehead State Space Science Center developed many of the UniSat-5 spacecraft subsystems. UniSat-5 also serves as a “mother ship” that will eventually deploy eight smaller satellites built by aerospace space enterprises and universities.
One of these secondary nanosatellites, Eagle-1, is a PocketQub that will be among the smallest spacecraft ever flown. This new satellite standard proposed in 2009 by Professor Robert Twiggs (Morehead State University) is even smaller than a CubeSat…called PocketQub. This Fempto-class satellite is a 5 cm cube that can fit in an individual’s pocket. Eagle-1, weighing approximately 430 grams (just under one pound), is one of four PocketQubs and four CubeSats that will be deployed from UniSat-5.
The PocketQub leverages the CubeSat standard and also builds on the accelerating miniaturization of electronics. PocketQubs could ultimately have a wide range of applications, including: space network nodes, sensor platforms and miniature satellite constellations that are inexpensive, redundant and spatially organized.
“This has been a remarkable week in the rapidly growing entrepreneurial, commercial and educational space industry in Kentucky,” said Mission Director Dr. Benjamin K. Malphrus, Chair, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, Space Science Center, Morehead State University.
This is the second launch this week from two different continents by Kentucky Space and its partners. The first of the satellites (KySat-2) was successfully launched Tuesday, Nov. 19 from the NASA Launch Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia.
Kentucky Space is a private nonprofit enterprise focused on entrepreneurial, educational and commercial space solutions.