Kitsat is an educational satellite based on the popular CubeSat format, which is used by hundreds of universities around the world.
CubeSats are the core of the New Space economy that is changing the way we use and access space.
New space is transforming our daily lives – and the revolution has just begun!
Understanding this technology is vital for the future and experimenting with it may help the next generation in future challenges. Everything from fighting climate change to creating new space-based services, which improve quality of life here on Earth.
Simple and inexpensive
Kitsat has all functioning satellite subsystems, such as an Electrical Power System (EPS) charging from solar panels or USB connector, Attitude Determination System (ADS), On-Board Computer (OBC) as the central information processing unit, radio module for telecommanding and telemetry, and payload instruments for autonomous observation.
The main computer is based on a 32-bit ARM micro-architecture, similar to modern mobile phones. It has 512 KB flash memory, which is more than enough for normal use.
The Kitsat has a full suite of sensors, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, GPS, temperature and air pressure. Additionally it also has an air quality sensor, to measure the quality of life.
The satellite has also a camera that can be used also for near infra red observations – making simple remote sensing demonstrations also possible.
The radio transreceiver (as it is delivered) can be used without a radio license. The output power can be increased for longer distance operations (up to 1500 km), but then the operator must have a radio amateur license.
Kitsat is delivered with a ground segment unit for realistic satellite operations simulation. The technical specifications are available here.
Ready for use
Kitsat has been developed by engineers from the Aalto University CubeSat projects and it is itself also a spinoff from a real space project: the basic concept is coming from the Suomi100 satellite, launched in 2018. The satellite is still now (October 2020) in operation.
Suomi100 satellite project needed a simple version of the satellite for educational use at the Space Truck, a small New Space themed science center that was built inside an exhibition truck.
During its tour around Finland in 2017, school children and other visitors built a rough copy of the satellite – and this activity turned out to be extremely popular and fun.
After the tour the idea developed further – boosted by requests from the teachers met during the tour – with the Finnish New space technology knowledge.
A prototype of Kitsat was sent up to the stratosphere with a weather balloon in November 2017. This flight was virtually as a technical 'proof of implementation' for our product concept.
Kitsat prototype was tested by Heureka Science Center and based on the experience gathered, a production version was finished in 2019. It is being used at several other schoold and science centres around Finland.
The users have flown Kitsats with drones and stratospheric balloons (as reported on our blogs) and the concept is now well established and ready for export as well.
In addition to pure space education, Kitsat system can be used in all STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) subjects.
It is a multipurpose tool with everything from simple hands-on space technology-learning to machine learning experiments.
As science and technology is these days – and increasingly in the future – teamwork, the educational activities around Kitsat are highlighting teams and their shared responsibilities.
An award-winning concept
The concept has already won the Quality Innovation Prize 2018 by the Finnish Quality Association and it has been selected for the world finals.
The Kitsat team also won the World Challenge Finland 2018 Hackathon and was awarded with a free flight to the International Space Station.
In February 2019 Kitsat was selected to join the European Space Agency Business Incubation Center.