Work on the PW-Sat3 satellite is drawing to a close

Visualisation showing the PW-Sat3 satellite in space

Visualisation showing the PW-Sat3 satellite in space

The launch of the third student satellite from the Warsaw University of Technology is planned for early 2024. The main mission of PW-Sat3 will be to test the propulsion system that will make the device burn up faster in the atmosphere, reducing space litter.

PW-Sat3 continues the tasks that accompanied the two previous WUT satellites. This involves the fight against so-called space junk - the remnants of objects that have found their way into Earth orbit as a result of human activity and often linger there for many years. This threatens, among other things, active satellites and astronauts.

- Our aim is to accelerate the deorbiting of the satellite, i.e. to shorten its stay in orbit as much as possible, so as not to clutter the orbit when the satellite is no longer needed, says project coordinator Magdalena Mącik.

PW-Sat (launched in 2012) was equipped with a deorbit tail and PW-Sat2 (its mission started in 2018) with a special sail. This time, the team from the Student Astronautical Circle operating at the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering of the Warsaw University of Technology wants to use a propulsion system for fast deorbiting, which will allow several manoeuvres to be performed in the orbit.

- If all the side experiments are completed, deorbiting will take place at the end, which means that the rest of the fuel will be used to lower the orbit and for the satellite to burn up in the atmosphere as quickly as possible, explains Magdalena Mącik.

Our students in PW-Sat 3 are using a proprietary warm butane gas propulsion system, which will enable orbit maintenance manoeuvres and, finally, deorbiting. This is a novelty, as no Polish satellite to date has had its own propulsion system designed from scratch.

- We will be able to control the propulsion system by sending particular commands at the right moment," explains Magdalena Mącik. - We will control the satellite's orientation in space. We are writing our own algorithms for this. This is something that the two previous PW-Sat satellites did not have.

Photo of the propulsion system constructed by WUT students

PW-Sat3 will be equipped with a propulsion system constructed by students

On board PW-Sat3 there will also be a camera to take pictures of the Earth and a horizon sensor to determine the satellite's spatial orientation with high accuracy. The satellite itself

The third satellite will be larger than previous student designs from WUT - its dimensions are 10x10x30 cm.

- We are currently at the stage of environmental and endurance testing of the satellite, or more precisely of its structural and thermal model, explains the project coordinator. - This is not yet the final version, but one of the final versions.

Currently, the project involves ca. 25 people from various faculties of the Warsaw University of Technology are currently involved in the project.

- Currently, our biggest challenge is to obtain funding for the purchase of all necessary components of the satellite and to cover the costs associated with its launch, says Magdalena Mącik.

More information about the project on the website, Facebook and Instagram.

source: and own information