AIST Small Spacecraft

The RKTs-Progress State Research-and-Production Space Rocket Centre developed the AIST scientific and educational small spacecraft (SSC) jointly with Samara Aerospace University. The project is primarily aimed at training of highly skilled specialists for space industry and intended for performing the following tasks:

- development of a small unified space platform of up to 100 kg, which is meant for conducting long-term researches (up to 3 years) and technological experiments and for execution of current educational programs;

- opening of a data channel in amateur band for transmitting educational and scientific information from higher educational institutes of Samara Region to institutes of Russia and foreign countries;

- measurement of geomagnetic field and development of low-frequency component microacceleration compensation system by the MAGKOM scientific hardware on board the spacecraft;

- study of high-speed mechanical particles of a natural and artificial origin followed by assessment of the effect of charged particles on the spacecraft surface and rating of surface charge time history (the METEOR scientific hardware);

- space experimental verification of promising solar batteries, a shock-free SSC separation system, multifunctional load-bearing panels, technique of piggyback injection of SSC into an operational orbit by a heavy research spacecraft and promising injection modules;

- scientific research on the effect of ionosphere on radio signals received from SSC;

- development of the SSC control system using the Ground Control Facility (NKU) of the DOKA-N type.

The space platform is designed on the basis of the command-and-control navigational system (KUNS) developed by NILAKT (Kaluga). KUNS performs 12 functions providing space-to-ground communication, navigation, operation of power-supply and temperature control systems, command queuing and distribution, and telemetry. The SSC body is a parallelepiped made of force-bearing cellular panels with in-built heat pipes. Overall dimensions of SSC are 470х560х480 mm; its mass is 39 kilogram. Photo transducers of gallium-arsenide solar batteries manufactured by SATURN OAO (Krasnodar), antenna assemblies, scientific hardware sensors, and fixing elements of the separation system are mounted outside the panels. The onboard hardware, accumulator battery, remote sensors, film-type heaters of the temperature control system, and cabling are mounted inside the spacecraft on thermal boards. The platform is meant for non-oriented flight; however, the presence of magnetometers, magnetic system of microacceleration compensation, and solar sensors mounted on all sides of the spacecraft makes possible spatial orientation in orbit.

Full experimental verification including strength, vibration, thermal-vacuum, electric and radio equipment testing, as well as design and development testing of the SSC separation system and check of the Ground Control Facility was implemented by the use of the AIST SSC. The KUNS system, solar batteries, scientific hardware, and the separation system were off-line tested. Samara State Aerospace University constructed a test stand for developing magnetic system of microacceleration compensation and a recorder of SSC accelerations occurring during separation from the main spacecraft and conducted a comprehensive analysis of newly-developed sensors meant for detection of micrometeorites, charged particles and surface charges on the SSC body. In addition, experimental simulation of interaction between micrometeoroid particles was performed using electrostatic and plasma accelerators.

A program of scientific researches using scientific hardware and, in fact, the space platform of the AIST SSC has been developed. This program is based on long-term (up to three years) measurements of geomagnetic field and assessment of possible account taken of its fluctuations in the course of compensation of spacecraft microaccelerations. The program includes operation of the METEOR scientific hardware using the spacecraft structure as a target for collisions with high-speed microparticles of natural and artificial origin and determines the volume of telemetry measurements in power supply and thermal control systems. The program solves a number of problems associated with passing of electromagnetic waves through ionosphere, spacecraft control, data communication with ground control facilities, education, and popularization of space engineering and exploration.

The AIST project was used as a theme for four Ph.D. theses, eighteen graduation projects and more than fifty publications. A number of technical and program solutions are supposed to be used in development of the AIST-2 small spacecraft meant for solving scientific and educational problems and for Earth remote sensing based on brand new technical solutions. Development of this spacecraft in wide cooperation including Samara State University and PGUTI is planned to be finished in 2015.

A flight model of the AIST spacecraft was mounted onboard the Bion-M1 spacecraft injected into orbit on 19 April 2013. On 21 April 2013, the AIST SSC separated from Bion-M1 and started normal operation in a specified orbit. Telemetry data is regularly transferred from AIST to the command post of Samara Centre of Earth Remote Sensing Data Reception and Processing organized in RKTs-Progress.


AIST Small Spacecraft

AIST specification

Average altitude of operating orbit

575 km

Satellite mass

39 kg

Research hardware mass

12.2 kg

Average power-supply system capacity

15 W

Orbital life

3 years

Number of

Foreign Satellites Launched