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NTU-made satellites fly into space in 2015

Posted: 26 Nov 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:satellite? VELOX? climate? space?

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) plans to send two new satellites into space next year. One is Singapore's first climate satellite while the other is an experimental communication satellite.

The two new satellites will adopt some of the technologies that have been successfully tested in NTU's VELOX-PII, a pico-sized satellite built by its undergraduates that marks its first anniversary this week, and its bigger brother VELOX-I launched in June.

The two NTU space satellites have flown more than a combined 7,600 times around Earth. NTU's first satellite, X-SAT, which was also Singapore's first satellite, was launched in 2011.

The VELOX-PII and VELOX-I tested a variety of new components built by NTU students and research staff. These include a new radiation-resistant image sensor, a mechanism to control the orientation of the satellites, a new satellite communication system and a fast response Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) module.

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Space-proven technology adopted from NTU's earlier satellites

Given the successful testing of these made-in-NTU components some 650km above the Earth, the University will be using some of these space-proven technologies in the next two NTU satellites which will be ready for launch in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Associate Professor Low Kay Soon, Director of NTU's Satellite Research Centre, said that "having two more satellites completing in-orbit experiments in the harsh environment of space is no mean feat."

"The success of the NTU satellites validates the expertise of our satellite engineers, giving us the confidence to integrate our new knowledge into building more advanced satellites, which will help Singapore in its quest to establish a space industry," Low added.

Experimental communication satellite

The new VELOX-II will be carrying experimental satellite-based communication hardware developed by Addvalue Innovation Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Singapore Exchange mainboard listed Addvalue Technologies Ltd.

This unique payload carried by the 12kg satellite is a collaboration between NTU and Addvalue. If proven successful in space, the payload will allow the VELOX-II to send data back to the NTU ground station from anywhere even if the satellite is not flying above Singapore, as is presently the case.

Climate satellite

The VELOX-CI is a 130kg satellite about the size of a mini fridge that is funded by Singapore's Economic Development Board. It will be used in the study of tropical climates.

Using a special technique known as radio occultation and advanced algorithms, VELOX-CI will be able to obtain weather data such as the upper atmospheric temperature, humidity and pressure, which are useful for long-term climate studies.

Radio occultation makes use of the radio signals transmitted from the GPS satellites 20,000km above the Earth. Using specially designed GPS receivers, VELOX-CI can detect these signals for a short duration, even if there is no line of sight due to the bending of these signals by the atmosphere.

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