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ESA’s first technology nanosatellite commissioned

ESA’s GomX-3 CubeSat plus the smaller student-built AAUSat-5 after being deployed from the NanoRacks dispenser on Japan’s Kibo module of the International Space Station on 5 October. They entered space together but a spring system pushed them away from each other. By the end of the week they were orbiting upwards of 100 km apart. – Illustration issued on 16 October at 1222. ©ESA/NASA

ESA’s first technology-testing CubeSat, released in week commencing 4 October from the International Space Station, was said to be in good health and set to start work on its six-month mission, as reported on 16 October.

Despite its small size of 10x10x30 cm, the nanosatellite precisely controls its orientation by spinning miniaturised ‘reaction wheels’ at varying speeds. This precision is an important factor in the effectiveness of the mission’s technology testing payloads. One task will see GomX-3 pointing upwards to detect radio signals from telecom satellites in geostationary orbit in order to assess their overall transmission efficiency.

The processing software can be changed in flight, allowing the receiver to be reconfigured and used in extremely flexible ways, of wider interest for future
ESA missions.