Gaining satellite insight through FlatSat



In January, Kongsberg NanoAvionics, demonstrated the FlatSat concept to Andøya Space, University of Oslo (UiO) and the Arctic University of Norway (UiT). The goal is to give students the opportunity to gain insight into how satellites work.

A FlatSat is a twin satellite, a copy of a real-life satellite. The FlatSat consists of the same subsystems as a real satellite, but instead of being assembled as a CubeSat ready for orbit, the satellite components are spread out and mounted onto a table for easy access and display.

During the operator training employees from Andøya Space, the University of Oslo (UiO) and the Arctic University of Norway (UiT) learned how small satellites from Kongsberg NanoAvionics work, and how to access and change satellite subsystems.

Ahead of the training, Andøya Space purchased a FlatSat from Kongsberg NanoAvionics, a small satellite constellation manufacturer and mission service provider, and installed it in a clean room. A clean room makes it possible for students and employees to work with the satellite in an environment safe from electrostatic discharges.

– Having a working satellite made available for students, makes it a lot easier to complete practical exercises and training, says Jøran Grande, Project Manager at Andøya Space Education. – The FlatSat provides the students with a real case and gives them an impression of what it’s like to work as a professional satellite operator or a satellite engineer. With this setup, the students can also simulate a passing satellite and run simulations on the satellite’s systems and payloads.

The training is a part of the Space Education 2.0 project, which is looking at how the new spaceport at Andøya can open new opportunities for higher education in Norway and Europe.

– It is a unique opportunity for our students to get to work with real satellites in this way, says Ketil Hansen, Laboratory Engineer at the Department for Electronics and Space Technology, UiT Campus Narvik.

– I certainly see good training opportunities for our students, says Professor Ketil Røed at the Department of Physics, University of Oslo.

– It was very interesting to get to know the FlatSat concept and gain insights into the work of a satellite provider and operator, says Anja Kohfeldt, Associate Professor at the Centre for Space Sensors and Systems, University of Oslo. – I will look into how we can integrate this into our new master’s program in Space Systems at UiO.

In addition to being used for training purposes, FlatSats are also used commercially to conduct local testing before software changes or commands are sent to a corresponding satellite in space. They can also be used as a sandbox playground for testing and development before a satellite is placed into orbit.

– The training session was outstanding, says Andrius Bružas, Software Field Application Engineer at Kongsberg NanoAvionics. – We had a great time participating and were impressed with the level of expertise and professionalism of the Andøya Space team. Overall, it was a great experience, and we look forward to future opportunities!

The next step for Andøya Space Education will be to work closely with the collaborating universities, and to develop exciting new hands-on complementary activities.

More information

Contact project manager Jøran Grande for more information