Kitsat is a fully functional satellite
Kitsat is a fully functional one-unit CubeSat, specifically made for educational use with earthly components, which make the purchase price affordable.
CubeSat format is used by hundreds of universities and companies around the world. CubeSats are the core of the New Space economy that is changing the way we use and access space.
Kitsat is an iteration of the Suomi 100 Satellite that has gathered data about the space weather in orbit since 2018. The best way to learn future skills and to be acquainted with space technology is to do it with the real stuff.
During a typical workshop, the participants are divided into small groups, each with their own satellite, and they dismantle it. The teacher explains what the parts are doing and how they look in bigger satellites. When the satellites are just parts on the table, the teacher tells about the orbits and different kinds of satellites, and the groups decide how they would like to use their satellite and what orbit is the best for that.
The Kitsat ground station programme helps with orbit planning as it has a simulator.
Then the groups assemble their satellites, connect to a computer running the ground station programme and test their satellite. Are the systems and sensors working as they should?
When the satellites are operational, they are usually hung on the highest part of the building and contacted via a small ground station and programme, both working just like the real satellite ground stations, but just simplified. Groups can take photos and measurements, and downlink to their computers.
After this session, the participants have an idea of how the satellites are functioning and they have hands-on experience in building one.
Simple and inexpensive
Kitsat's main computer is similar to modern mobile phones. It has more than enough memory for normal use and is equipped with a full suite of sensors, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, GPS and temperature. It also has air quality and pressure sensors that are not so vital in space, but which provide interesting information here on Earth.
The camera can be used also for near-infrared observations – making simple remote sensing demonstrations also possible.
The Kitsat system includes already now space parts and additional items, like a Yagi antenna. An upgraded power system and a battery is also available; this is useful, especially for stratospheric flights. More items will be introduced soon.
Kitsat satellites and accessories are designed and assembled in Finland.
Kitsat is versatile
Just seeing a satellite is sometimes important because most of people have not realised how small the satellites can be.
The next steps are to see inside and have a hands-on experience with a satellite. The users can build the satellite themselves and learn about the basic parts of the satellite at the same time. Therefore Kitsat can be assembled and dismantled easily. The parts are robust, clearly marked and interchangeable.
As Kitsat also functions like spaceworthy satellites, the users can command it and pick up the basics of satellite operations.
Kitsats used at Heureka Science Centre.
Kitsat wants to be brought out to the wild from the classrooms. It can be flown with a drone or sent to the stratosphere with a meteorological balloon. The satellite has a camera and a suite of environmental sensors for observations and measurements during a flight.
Kitsat had a flight from Lapland on the summer solstice 2020 with the magical midnight Sun.
Tested & ready for use
More than 100 Kitsats have been delivered to customers around the world. The biggest user is ESERO Finland, followed by customers in Portugal, Norway and China. Proof of Kitsat's durability comes from the Heureka Science Centre, where the earliest satellites have been used already more than 1000 times.