On Tuesday 18 April, Aalto-2, the satellite designed and built by Aalto University students was launched to space on the Atlas V rocket. It will reach International Space Station within 3 days. This is the first Finnish-built satellite in space.
‘We have been preparing for the launch of either Aalto-1 or Aalto-2 for a long time. There was a big crowd of us looking forward to and celebrating this historic event in Otaniemi’, says Professor Jaan Praks, the director of the project.
The space station will release Aalto-2 into space within about 1 month from the arrival of the cargo to the ISS. The astronauts will install the launch adapter into a robotic arm, which will allow the satellites to be safely detached to their orbits. The Aalto-2 satellite’s orbit is close to the equator, so the satellite can only be occasionally in contact with the earth station in Otaniemi, Finland.
It took about 6 years to develop the satellite and bring it to space. Development of the Aalto-2 satellite started in 2012 as a doctoral project when the first students graduated as Masters of Science in Technology after working on the Aalto-1 project.
The launch of Aalto-2 has a great impact on Finnish space industry overall, and hopefully will boost the growth of spacetech startups in the region. Finland is now in the middle of negotiations with European Space Agency regarding the establishment of a BIC business incubator in the country. If successful, this will be the third ESA Business Incubation Center in the region. The space agency already has business incubators in Sweden and is about to open one in Estonia later this year.