France: The ESA will fly your satellite for you. If you are wondering how, then ESA's 2016 edition has just entered its final exciting phase that is launch preparation. As part of the launch preparation, three teams of selected students fit their CubeSats in the orbital deployer, which will eject the satellites into orbit post launch.
The integration campaign was performed by the enthusiastic students on 14 and 15 March under the careful guidance of their university professors and ESA’s Education staff at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands.
Fitted into the deployer, the three student CubeSats – OUFTI-1 from the University of Liege, Belgium, e-st@r-II from the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy, and AAUSAT4 from the University of Aalborg, Denmark – are now ready to be shipped to the European spaceport (CSG) in Kourou, French Guyana. In Kourou the students will participate in the launch preparation campaign as part of an experience of a lifetime.
Launch of the CubeSats is currently planned for 22 April 2016, as they will be launched as piggyback satellites on a Soyuz launcher together with main passenger Sentinel-1B, an ESA Earth observation satellite, as well as two other European satellites.
The integration of the CubeSats in the orbital deployer is an important stepping stone of the professional engineering process that – in the last couple of years – has brought the students from designing and building their satellites at their universities, to testing it at ESA’s test facilities, and to undergo several technical reviews, which will eventually lead them to launch and culminate their unique learning experience.