Apr 23, 2017 06:08 PM EDT
Estonia had recently announced that they are now testing needed technologies for the future moon orbiting satellite. The planned prototype for Estonia’s future moon orbiting satellite was then mentioned to be a CubeSat that would be launched early in 2019.
According to Phys.org, the students of the University of Tartu in Estonia, as well as other students worldwide in the ESTCube program, developed the CubeSat that serves as a prototype for Estonia’s future moon orbiting satellite. Under the mission name of ESTCube-2, the CubeSat was said to be developed to test advanced technologies for the future.
The main goal of ESTCube-2 CubeSat was mentioned to test the plasma brake for deorbiting satellites and electric sail propulsion. Hence, the subsystems of the ESTCube-2 were mentioned to be: electrical power system (EPS), communication subsystem (COM), onboard computer (OBC), attitude and orbit control system (AOCS) and structure (STR).
"We expect to deorbit ESTCube-2 much faster than it would happen with natural aerodrag," Andris Slavinskis, ESTCube-2 Satellite Project Manager stated. He also explained that it would take more than 20 years to deorbit from a 650-kilometer orbit as they expect the plasma break with a 300-meter tether to be successful in less than a year. "When tested, the plasma brake would be a strong component in space debris mitigation," he stated.
Slavinskis then concluded that if the ESTCube-2 CubeSat goes well, they might go for the ESTCube-3 as well. ESTCube-3 was identified to be launched to the moon’s orbit due to their E-sail propulsion technology’s true nature which is solar wind. E-sail was then mentioned to be used in the recent ESTCube-1 which was unsuccessful, so they plan to test its proportion once again.
Furthermore, Futurism noted that the International Space Station is planning for a future space station on the moon’s orbit by 2020 along Estonia’s CubeSat. The reason was pointed to develop more advanced technologies amid the challenges that the proposals face. Yet, as Russia prefers a lunar surface base, NASA prefers a higher orbit to access Mars as well.
CubeSats were identified to be cube-shaped satellites that are often in 10×10×11.35cm sizes. In which, they are small, easy to build, cheap and compact. Operating the CubeSat was also mentioned to be easy as anyone with a basic idea of programming could initiate the program.