Satellite built by NTU students sent into space

Satellite built by NTU students sent into space
Prof Low (centre) and NTU PhD students Htet Aung, 27, (left) and Charlie Soon, 28, with the Velox-PII prototype. Tests by NTU have shown that the Velox-PII, currently orbiting some 600km above earth, is fully operational.

SINGAPORE - For the first time, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students have designed and built a satellite which has been successfully sent into space.

Barely bigger than an iPad, the Velox-PII was carried by a rocket launched from Russia last Thursday. Tests by NTU have shown that the satellite, currently orbiting some 600km above earth, is fully operational.

It will spend the next year running tests to ensure the viability of NTU's satellite technology, such as sun sensors used to orientate the fully solar-powered Velox-PII so that it can absorb enough energy.

If proven to work, the technology could be sold to companies, said Associate Professor Low Kay Soon, director of NTU's Satellite Research Centre.

The size of satellites such as the Velox-PII also makes them less costly to launch, so companies could also use them to test parts that have not been used in space before, like memory chips, he added.

He also noted that the centre was already in "ongoing discussions" with some firms, but declined to name them.

The university also declined to reveal the cost of the Velox-PII.

This is not the first satellite to be launched by NTU. In April 2011, there was the X-Sat, which was built by the university's staff and DSO National Laboratories. About 100 times as heavy as its 1.33kg successor, the X-Sat has taken almost 5,000 photographs of earth, helping researchers to monitor environmental change.

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