The First Slovenian Satellite Will Fly into Space in 2017
Slovenia has a rich tradition of exploring the cosmos. Back in 1928, the pioneer of space science Herman Potočnik developed a project of a space station in the geostationary orbit. A crater on the Moon was named after Jurij Vega, and the world’s first Centre for the Universe Development KSEVT is working in Vitanje.
Slovenian companies are also looking for new opportunities in space technologies. In July 2016, Slovenia signed the Paris Agreement on Associate Membership in the European Space Agency (ESA), which opens the way for the Slovenian companies to the Agency programs and the development of high-tech products with high added value. In total, 88% of the ESA budget, which this year is 4.2 billion euros, is provided for the development of the space industry, and only 5%—for the needs of research institutions.
The First Slovenian Satellite Will Fly into Space Next Year
The University of Maribor and the SkyLabs Company, which specializes in space microtechnologies, develop the first Slovenian satellite under the ESA auspices. The project was entitled ‘Misija Trisat’. The satellite weighs 5.5 kg. It now undergoes the critical stage of testing, which is coordinated with the ESA. The satellite model was tested in vacuum at different temperatures. It also passed checks for vibration. The satellite will be equipped with an infrared camera, which is based on a high-tech PicoSky platform by the SkyLabs Company.
The camera allows the detection of volcanic ash, islands of large fires, oil spills in the oceans and the discovery of underground mineral deposits. The basis of satellite platform is a small procedural core designed by SkyLabs. According to the Company’s director Tomaž Rotovnik, the big European companies, for example the Airbus, are interested in this novelty. The solar cells produced by a Spanish company will be embedded into the first Slovenian man-made earth satellite. The Trisat satellite will cost 1 million euros. About 350 thousand euros have been already invested therein.
The project manager Iztok Kramberger (the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Maribor) argues that the Trisat artificial satellite will orbit in 2017. However, it is still unknown what launch vehicle will be used. Several options are considered, including India. After launching the satellite, Slovenia will enter the list of 50 countries with satellites in space. “The working period of such satellites is 5–6 years,” Iztok Kramberger said.
The Slovenian company Sinergise starts playing an increasing role in the field of space technology. Its Copernicus project won the international competition of the European Space Agency with a budget of 6.7 billion euros. Copernicus is a revolutionary development that reduces time to display and use satellite images from several hours to a few seconds. The Sinergise application provides access to a significant amount of raw data that are sent to the satellites of the European Space Agency. The application daily processes over 2,000 CD data units. This year’s cooperation with the European Space Agency brought more than 500 thousand euros of additional revenue to the Sinergise Company.
Development of Space Medicine
Another important area is the study of space medicine. The Olympic Sports Centre Planica has opened the Centre for Life Simulation on the Mars and the Moon. It studies the effect of weightlessness and lack of oxygen on a human body under conditions identical to those in the space.
The Planica Centre, with the help of the European Space Agency, has opened a physiology laboratory and hypoxic chambers, where experts-cosmologists from the Institute of Jožef Stefan conduct space medical research. Their achievements are used in other areas of scientific knowledge. They are currently working on a new technology for preventing atrophy of muscles and osteoporosis using electric and magnetic stimulation.