Costa Rica’s First Satellite Travels to Japan for Tests Prior to 2018 Launch

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The first space satellite developed in Costa Rica is a 10 cubic centimeter aluminum affair that weighs one kilogram.

The milestone achievement was designed using the CubeSat picosatellites model – very small, lightweight and low-cost devices.

The satellite will carry a computer, a communication system and a power system. It will also have solar panels and a secondary computer.

When it arrives in Japan, the satellite will undergo vibration, thermal and other tests that emulate the space environment and ensure the device will survive such conditions.

Two Costa Ricans will be in charge of carrying out the tests in Japan: Marco Hernández and Juan José Rojas, professors at the country’s Technological Institute in Cartago who are currently pursuing their postgraduate studies at the Kyushu Institute of Technology.

If the satellite  passes all the necessary tests, the Project Irazú device will be delivered to the Japanese Space Agency, which is in charge of the logistics of the launch.

At some point between March and April, the satellite will be launched on a rocket into the Kibo laboratory, which is the Japanese module of the International Space Station (ISS). And from this site the goal is to launch the satellite into orbit in June, said Marco Gómez, project manager for ITCR’s Space Systems Laboratory.

To make this space device a reality, private and public partners on the project undertook a fundraising campaign through the Kickstarter to raise the US$75,000 needed to reach the total $500,000 to send it into orbit.

The initiative, which garnered support from around 800 individual and company donors, managed to raise US$80,000.

Gómez said that in the process of building the satellite, his team discovered previously unknown talents including Radioclub Costa Rica, who are amateurs, who helped design the satellites radio-communication system.

Likewise, Gómez highlighted the contribution of metalworking students at the Costa Rican National Institute of Learning (INA) who built the satellite‘s casing or frame

“The structure of the satellite … had to have a millimeter precision, because when the rocket on which it is to be launched takes off, it must fit perfectly,” said Gómez.

The device was presented and ready to be sent to Japan Monday, October 23.

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