Students of the Prague Electroengineering High School have launched their minisatellite PragSAT
"The counting of the last 10 seconds to launch is done aloud! I think I hadn't been the only one who felt like it was real, as it was launched a real big spaceship," says Jan Růžička, a member of the PragSAT team.
The PragSAT team under the guidance of Ing. Vladimír Váňa have designed and built two pieces of CanSat, one of which was earmarked for launch at the competition and the other was to servee as a backup copy.
CanSats are student's minisatellites, designed and constructed in a way so that all the technical components, including power supply fit in a small beverage can. In the competition, it must include several sensors. Its data are captured by studets in the ground segment during the satellite's descent on the parachute. After the landing the data are processed to the graphical outputs such as graphs and charts.
For all participating teams it was mandatory to measure temperature and atmospheric pressure. As an optional measurement the PragSAT team, inspired by Czech MAGION, chose magnetic field and acceleration measurements. To the flight model of CanSat there was added a sensor for environmental radioactivity measuring. Since the competition took place on a military base (or rather above the military base) it was not allowed to assemble cameras that is quite common in competitions alike.
The core of the CanSat was constructed from a start kit received by all the teams from the competition's organizer, the Department of Education of the European Space Agency (ESA/EDU). The backup CanSat was built according to own PragSAT team design, from components available to students of the high school.
But the day before launch the ground station panel of the PragSAT flight model stoped to work from unknown reasons. Therefore, it was decided to use the backup CanSat engineered by students. This satellite wasn't assembled inside the empty soda can, but in a special reinforced case from duralumin sheet developed by students. Since the dimensions of case match the technical propositions, it was possible to launch the backup CanSat in the competition.
PragSAT was launched in the first batch together with Greek Aristarchus minisatellite. Three pound weighing and 1.5 meters long launcher Intruder has brought both minisatellites to the planned height of 1 km, where they were ejected by a spring device and began their return journey to Earth's surface. For safe descent the PragSAT used set of three parachutes of military flares. This parachute system had been already proven by the previous team Ječňáci from the same school in the final round of the competition in 2012.
Before the start, during the descent to Earth and after landing till it has been traced, the PragSAT had measured and transfered the data continuously and the team had successfully intercepted and displayed its signals at the ground station.
The PragSAT team has successfully performed its "space flight", compiled and interpreted the captured data and showed that such competition can successfully participated with minisatellite constructed without professionally produced components and sold kits. Although the Czech team didn't win, the Prague students Jakub Janovský, Vít Kalhaus, Jan Růžička and Ondřej Vrba certainly did not not fail at all.
The Czech Space Office provides the information to students interested in CanSat's competitions, but also in other similar technical competitions. CSO cooperates closely with students and teachers in Prague Electroengineering High School in Ječná street for a long time and supports them in realization of their projects.
The final round of the European competition CanSat in 2010 was participated by the team X-GymZR of the Grammar School in Žďár nad Sázavou and in 2012 by the team Ječňáci from SPŠE Ječná in Prague. About the participation of the second team, the Czech Space Office has brought the video that you can watch by clicking the link on the left panel of this page.