The first Polish scientific satellite, BRITE-PL Lem, has begun its mission. The satellite was launched on the 21st of November 2013 onboard a Dnepr rocket.
After several delays, which totaled in over one year of launch date postponement, the first Polish scientific satellite was finally placed on orbit. On the 21st of November 2013, at 07:10 UTC, a Dnepr rocket lifted-off from the Dombarovsky military base in Russia. Onboard the rocket were 33 satellites in total (incl. one experimental avionics package).
The launch took place as planned at 07:10 UTC. The rocket was ejected from a missile silo and 20 meters above the ground its engines were ignited. Approximately 15 minutes after launch the satellites were deployed. This process took more than one minute and BRITE-PL Lem was the last satellite to be ejected from the upper stage of the Dnepr rocket. The deployment process proceeded as planned and BRITE-PL Lem was properly placed on orbit.
Over 90 minutes later, at 08:47 UTC, the first beacon signal from BRITE-PL Lem was picked up by a ground station. The satellite is healthy and ready to communicate with mission control.
Over the next weeks a commissioning phase will take place. Lem’s subsystems will be then checked and verified. The satellite will perform some test measurements later and finally it will begin its scientific mission.
BRITE-PL Lem is the second Polish satellite. The first one – the educational PW-Sat (a CubeSat satellite) was launched in February 2012. The second BRITE-PL satellite (named “Heweliusz”) will be launched on the 29th of December this year onboard a Chinese rocket.
The BRITE-PL satellites were built by the Polish Space Research Center from Warsaw. The project was initiated in late 2009 and its value is estimated to be ca. 14-15 million Polish Zloty (approx 3,5-4 million EUR).