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Massey Magazine Issue 13 November 2002

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kiwi satellite
Massey behind New Zealand’s maiden satellite voyage

New Zealand’s first space satellite will launch from Russia in 2005 at the initiative of an amateur satellite group and backed by the University.

A research fellow at the University’s Albany campus, Fred Kennedy is leading the design and construction of KiwiSat, a cube-shaped satellite weighing between 5-10kg. Slightly larger than a basketball, the spring-loaded satellite will launch attached to a larger Russian satellite and settle into an 800km polar orbit.

Travelling as one of approximately 30 “Oscar” satellites (orbiting satellites carrying amateur radio), the satellite will connect global amateur radio stations whilst maintaining ‘rental space’ for a scientific experiment. Senior physics lecturer Dr Scott Whineray is providing technical support and says the satellite is an ideal vehicle from which to study the ozone layer.

Kiwi Satellite

Satellites are typically built with magnets that lock into the earth’s magnetic field and hold them in orbit. KiwiSat, however, will be free to tumble in its orbit, relying upon a series of in-built sensors to monitor its position. Solar panels will boost batteries expected to fuel the satellite for three to four years.

KiwiSat will provide an invaluable research opportunity for Mr Kennedy whose next challenge lies in developing software to hold future satellites in position without magnets.

Massey’s involvement with satellite design began with the construction of the Southern hemisphere’s receiving station for a project connecting four African countries via a Portuguese microsatellite. The project, initiated by Dublin’s Trinity College, is nearing the end of a four year run and the receiving station will become KiwiSat’s command station.

Fore more information please contact: Stephanie Gray 06 350 5185
021 534 562 or Fred Kennedy 09 443 9799 ext 9678

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