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    Warsaw University of Technology students near completion of work on PW-Sat3 satellite

    Students at the Warsaw University of Technology are expanding the family of satellites that test various ways of solving the problem of ‘space junk’. PW-Sat3 is scheduled to be launched in early 2024. Its task will be to test the drive, thanks to which the satellite will burn up faster in the atmosphere.

    The students have already launched two satellites into space. In February 2012, the first Polish artificial satellite PW-Sat was launched into orbit. Its mission was continued by PW-Sat2 launched in 2018.

    For several years, members of the Students’ Space Association at the university’s Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering have been working on another satellite – PW-Sat3. According to PW-Sat3 project coordinator Magdalena Mącik, the latest satellite is largely a continuation of the tasks that accompanied the constructors of previous PW satellites. It is designed to test solutions useful in the fight against space junk.

    “Our goal is to accelerate satellite deorbitation, i.e. to shorten the time of its stay in orbit as much as possible, so as not to clutter it up when the satellite is no longer needed,” says Mącik. “Our previous satellites had a deorbitation tail, a deorbitation sail, and now we have a propulsion system that will allow us to perform several manoeuvres in orbit. Once all side experiments are performed, deorbitation will take place, which means that we will use the rest of the fuel to lower the orbit so that the satellite can burn up in the atmosphere as soon as possible.”

    she said.

    Scientists around the world are working on solving this problem and looking for ways to both remove existing space junk, and prevent the formation of new debris in the future.

    One such solution for small satellites may be a butane warm gas propulsion developed by Warsaw University of Technology students, which will enable orbit maintenance manoeuvres and, ultimately, deorbitation.

    Students hope that PW-Sat3 will be the first Polish satellite with its own propulsion designed from scratch.

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