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Small satellites in Czech Republic

Conclusions of the CSO seminar on small satellites in the Czech Republic

Czech Space Office held on March 4 the seminar for those interested in issues of development and construction of small satellites. This was the first event of its kind, which was at the same time a concrete contribution to a state improvement the that has been neglected for a long time. Nevertheless, there are universities and research institutions that try to gain knowledge and skills related to the construction of small satellites and build on an important role that Czech Republic played in the past.

The purpose of the workshop was to provide an opportunity for all participants to present the information about their current achievements, so they can  exchange knowledge about the main obstacles in their work and create a common platform for the creation of appropriate conditions for the development of small satellites in the Czech university and business environment. Invitation to the seminar, whose space was provided by the Faculty of Electrical Engeneering, CTU in Prague, adopted by all teams in the Czech Republic working on the preparation of small satellites.

At the beginning, the Director of Czech Space Office acquainted thirty present participants with a purpose and motivation for organizing this seminar. After that, there were sequentially presented experiences of czCube group, information about the stage of development of university cubesats PilsenCube at UWB (University of West Bohemia) in Pilsen and CzechTechSat at the CTU. After presentations followed a description of the VZLUSAT-1 developement of Aerospace Research and Test Establishment in Prague, which should verify several new technologies in orbit under the European project QB50, whose target is to launch 50 cubesats for research the lower layers of the Earth's thermosphere.

This was followed by three contributions from Czech teams with suggestions for possible use of small satellites for their research. Astrophysicists from Masaryk University in Brno want to get involved in the construction of satellites UV - Brite for star astrometry. Geologist Dr. Kletetschka introduced the idea of artificial meteorite with gas heat shield and Dr. Kvíderová of the Institute of Botany, ASCR (Academy of Sceinces of Czech Republic) spoke about the use of small satellites for biological research.

Technical posts ended a demonstrational example of the success of Czech institutions  - Assoc. Prof. Granja from the Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics (IEAP), CTU in Prague, in cooperation with the CSRC Brno constructed a compact radiation detector Satram, which monitors wide spectrum of cosmic rays on ESA's Proba -V with high resolution since May 2013. The device is based on TimePix particle detector, which was developed by an international consortium of scientists at CERN. Assoc. Prof. Granja also brought to show an engineering model of similar but more advanced equipment, which assembled a team IEAP, CTU for Japanese satellite RISESat. All the presented papers can be downloaded from the links in the left column.

In our country exist not only small satellites at an advanced stage of development, but also a number of other teams that would  gladly use a potential of small satellites for the placement of their own devices. Following the in detail discussed current development status of the individual cubesats have been in discussion with CSO proposed the possibilities of cooperation within the Czech Republic, both for their launch and integration of devices. CSO announced sontemporary launch options under the ESA, but also a suborbital aircraft XCOR Lynx and Chinese rocket launch options. A number of carrier rockets has already an interface for the P -POD (Poly - PicoSatellite Orbital Deployer) placement,which is launching device for cubes. Cubesat launching has reached such proportions in the world that the current options are overwhelmed, including, for example Kibo module on the International Space Station. Therefore, NASA ordered nano rocket GOLauncher 2 that would expand current launching possibilities.

In the Czech Republic it is necessary to use existing experience from cubesat preparation and try to get a cheap and operational access to space, both for university research projects and pioneering technological experiments. At that point CSO assists the teams by using its contacts to ease sometimes difficult communication with organizations providing the launching. Within the established communication platform CSO also mediate the exchange of experiences and provide current information about the construction of small satellites in the Czech Republic. CSO is at the same time helping the named teams to get flight opportunities and strive for improvement of current conditions for the small satellites development in Czech Republic. Professional candidates interested in participating in the small satellites platform can contact the author of this article.