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.
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