A September 25, 1993around 2:45 am, Portuguese space ambitions continued aboard flight 59 of an Ariane 4 rocket, launched from the Kourou Space Center, in French Guiana. Twenty minutes and 35 seconds after takeoff, At more than 800 kilometers altitude, PoSAT-1 successfully separated from the “hitchhiker” to occupy the planned orbit above the earth’s surface. The date is marked today with a conference organized by the Portuguese Space Agency, Portugal Space.
Fernando Carvalho Rodrigues, considered the father of the Portuguese satellite, even recalled the historic launch as a “tense and enormously concentrated job”, haunted by some fear of failure, mainly due to the financial cost.
At current values, the project cost around five million euroswith a part financed by the then Specific Program for the Development of Portuguese Industry, but also by the companies that made up the PoSAT-1 Consortium: INETI, EFACEC, Alcatel, Marconi, OGMA, UBI and CEDINTEC.
Click on the images for more details about PoSAT-1
On the night of launch, the physicist will only have rested when received a fax guaranteeing that PoSAT-1 was working fully, after “the Satellite Command Center in Alfouvar received the signal and began to ‘talk’ to the satellite”. Afterwards, he felt overcome by a feeling of gratitude for having brought together, in this project, “so many people, so much hardware, so much software”.
A half-meter metal box and some ambition
PoSAT-1 was used for telecommunications in several countries, namely by the Portuguese army, on missions in Bosnia, and was also an important advance in what is now one of the domains of Portuguese space strategy: Earth observation.
The first Portuguese satellite It was an aluminum box 35 centimeters wide and 58 centimeters long and weighed around 50 kg.. From a scientific point of view, was equipped to collect information that would allow the characterization of the Earth’s radiation beltsrecognition of the distribution of cosmic radiation levels on the earth’s surface and the study of solar winds.
Integrava 10 drawers with electronic boards, batteries and a remote detection module, as well as sensors altitude and stabilization. The various systems on board were powered by solar energy, thanks to the energy collected through the solar panels installed on the equipment.
The satellite interacted with the only control terminal existing at the time in the country, located in the Satellite Operational Control Center, formerly owned by Marconi, operating in the Sintra area. These communications were possible in part of the trips made around the Earth each day. It moved at an average speed of 7.3 km per second and communications with our planet normally lasted 12 minutes.
Or PoSAT-1 stopped emitting signal in 2006, after a period of 13 years of operation, about double the initially estimated lifespan, which was five to eight years. The metallic “celestial body”, weighing around 50 kilos and half a meter high is currently on a silent journey in orbit around the Earth, with his physical death expected to occur in 2043.
Although it is the “flag-bearer” for Portugal’s entry into the group of countries with a space program, PoSAT-1 remains, to this day, after 30 years, the only satellite launched by Portugal. But This scenario should change soonwith several projects under development.
ISTSat-1 is one of them. O first satellite built by Instituto Superior Técnico and is completely finished, after having undergone demanding technical tests in a simulated space environment.
Its mission is to demonstrate an aircraft detection system using ADS-B signals (automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast), the intention is that the cubic satellite with an edge of 10 centimeters follow the inaugural flight of the new European rocket Ariane 6.
A Geosat is another of the companies that promises to put Portugal on the “space map”, having announced the launch of 11 new high and very high resolution satellites by 2025.
Os satellites AEROSfrom Edisoft, the uPGRADEfrom Spinworks and the Newsatfrom Stratosphere, along with the VDES constellationsda Lusospace, SARda idD e Magalfrom Efacec, are also ongoing projects.
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