La Sapienza - Università di Roma

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STUDENT QB Satellite is in Orbit


As of 6:15 am on June 23, 2017, the Ursa Maior Cubesat is orbiting the Earth as part of the European "QB50" Programme coordinated by the Von Karman Institute of Fluid Dynamics in Brussels. This satellite’s signal was correctly received at 10:30 am.

“Ursa Maior” (an acronym that stands for “University of Rome Sapienza Micro Attitude in Orbit Test”) is a satellite designed and developed as part of their thesis by Aerospace Engineering students under the guidance of Professors Fabio Santoni, Fabrizio Piergentili and Francesco Nasuti from the Cras-Aerospace Research Centre at Sapienza. Testing was carried out at both Sapienza and at Thales Alenia Space Italia laboratories.  

The satellite contains a hair-thin micro-propulsion device designed and developed by Sapienza students thanks to funding provided by the Italian Space Agency. In addition to the experiments envisaged by the QB50 Project for the study of the atmosphere, Ursa Maior will also test the deployment of a sail for de-orbiting, an experiment devised by NPC in Imola in collaboration with Sapienza students.

The QB50 mission will demonstrate the possibility of launching a network of 50 CubeSats built by universities teams around the world as a primary payload on a low-cost launch vehicle to perform first-class science experiments in the largely unexplored lower thermosphere.