SunSpace was established in 2000 as a spin-off from Stellenbosch University following the successful launch of SUNSAT by NASA with a Delta-II launch vehicle. During the past decade SunSpace has developed and delivered numerous satellite components, subsystems and two flight model satellite, now operational in space. This blog documents the mission of Sumbandila (funded by the DST), launched on a Soyuz-2.1b on 17 September 2009. SunSpace places a high premium on a strong partnership with the South African Government for supplying the ongoing satellite needs of our government.

22 September 2009

Sumbandilasat Technical Status Report No. 1

Sumbandilasat has completed more than 50 Earth orbits in space and we are now in full swing with the various commissioning activities.

The two autonomous Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS) controllers (Bdot and Y-Thompson; Bdot-Sun) running on a small micro processor on the magnetic subsystem (no floating point processing) are perfectly pitching the satellite at 2°/sec with the main body-mount solar panel facing the sun. The power system is therefore running optimally. We are satisfied with the thermal state of the satellite in the current basic attitude control mode.

As expected, the 500km orbit of the satellite causes incidences of short contact opportunities with the satellite due to the fact that our ground station is located at the Engineering Faculty (in Stellenbosch) where it is surrounded by various high mountains. We have identified certain aspects in our communication setup on the ground which can be improved to make the communications with the satellite more robust and reliable.

In addition, we are re-evaluating the possibility to extend the contact time with the satellite by also employing the Sumbandilasat TT&C ground station at SAC (Hartebeeshoek), by remotely controlling passes from Stellenbosch. 

At the moment we are focusing on the commissioning of the main On-Board Computer that will allow us to collect whole-orbit telemetry data, calibrate the magnetometer and proceed to the more advanced ADCS control modes on the main Attitude Computer.

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Current Keplerian Elements

Last Update: 1 Febr 2010
Element set: 404

1 35870U 09049F   10032.48635300  .00000433  00000-0  21444-4 0  4040
2 35870 097.3525 084.8560 0011505 166.1189 300.7196 15.22856092 20818