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nSIGHT 1 (QB50 AZ02)

nSIGHT 1 [SCS Space]

nSIGHT 1 is a 2U-CubeSat for technology development and upper atmosphere science. It is developed and built at SCS-Space, South Africa.

The main objectives of the mission is:

  • To comply with the QB50 mission objective of doing atmospheric research measurements in the lower thermosphere
  • To provide first space flight heritage for the SCS Gecko imager
  • To demonstrate a patented radiation mitigation VHDL coding technique developed by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • To showcase the capability of South Africa’s private space sector

The satellite uses magnetic sensors and actuators to do initial detumbling into a Y-Thompson spin after release from its deployer. After a set time after release, all deployables, including the antennas, were deployed. The satellite then starts transmitting a beacon, and start listening for communication from a groundstation. When the appropriate command is received, the satellite activates its full suite of sensors and actuators to orientate itself in the RAM direction. During this process the spin the satellite contains in the Y-axis, is absorbed into a momentum wheel, which then provides the stabilized satellite with a momentum bias. At this point the QB50 science payload was activated and occasionally the payload imager was tested. Science data, telemetry data, as well as images captured by the payload camera was sent to the ground if there is a communications opportunity.

It is a part of the QB50 constellation to gather science data in the upper layers of the troposphere in the altitude range from 350 km down to 200 km. The QB50 project, which demonstrates the possibility of launching a network of 50 CubeSats built by Universities Teams all over the world to perform first-class science in the largely unexplored lower thermosphere.

It carries the FIPEX (Flux-Φ-Probe Experiment) of TU Dresden as the primary payload for the QB50 project, which is able to distinguish and measure the time-resolved behaviour of atomic and molecular oxygen as a key parameter of the lower thermosphere.

nSight 1 also carries the first flight model of the SCS Gecko imager, a very compact RGB camera with a ground sampling distance of approximately 30 m.

The satellite was launched with the bulk of the QB50 constellation to the ISS in 2017, from where the satellite was deployed on 25 May 2017. The in-orbit lifetime of nSIGHT 1 is about 3 months, from deployment to de-orbit. On 24 April 2020, it reentered the atmosphere.

Nation: South Africa
Type / Application: Technology, atmosphere, earth observation
Operator: SCS-Space
Contractors: SCS-Space
Equipment: FIPEX, Gecko Imager
Configuration: CubeSat (2U)
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Lifetime: 3 months (orbit); 1-1.5 years design
Mass: 2 kg
Orbit: 399 km × 406 km, 51.64°
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
nSIGHT 1 (QB50 AZ02) 1998-067MF 18.04.2017 CC SLC-41 Atlas-5(401) with Cygnus CRS-7, ALTAIR 1, SUSat, UNSW-EC0, i-INSPIRE 2, ZA-AeroSat, Ex-Alta 1, LilacSat 1, NJUST 1, Aoxiang 1, SOMP 2, QBITO, Aalto 2, X-CubeSat, SpaceCube, DUTHSat, UPSat, Hoopoe, LINK, SNUSAT 1, SNUSAT 1b, qbee50-LTU-OC, BeEagleSat, HAVELSAT, Phoenix, PolyITAN-2-SAU, QBUS 1, QBUS 2, QBUS 4, IceCube, CSUNSat 1, CXBN 2, KySat 3, SHARC, Lemur-2 30, ..., 33


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