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Astronaut helps launch first student satellite

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Astronaut helps launch first student satellite
Christer Fuglesang on a previous space mission. Photo: TT
10:43 CEST+02:00
Sweden's debut astronaut Christer Fuglesang is helping students at KTH Royal Institute of Technology to become the first in the country to make their own satellite and send it into space.
The 57-year-old physics professor who became the first Swede in space in 2006, is now hoping to help lift off the careers of future scientists specialising in space studies at KTH in Stockholm.
 
Starting in January 2015, his project will see students building a mini satellite over a two year period, before sending it into Earth’s orbit in 2017.
 
"It is a really exciting that KTH will be the first university in Sweden with a student-built CubeSat," he told The Local.
 
"We don't plan to just send it up into space and leave it there though, we are looking into opportunities to use the satellite to test new electronics and radiation technology or to study biological processes in weightlessness. These are just some of the proposals we are considering," he added.
 

Christer Fuglesang was Sweden's first astronaut. Photo: Christina Olsson/TT
 
Fugelsang was a Fellow at CERN and taught mathematics at the Royal Institute of Technology before he was selected to join the European Astronaut Corps 1992. 
 
He took part in two space shuttle missions and was the first European astronaut to carry out more than three space walks.
 
The project at KTH was his own idea and follows similar student satellite missions by Ålborg university in Denmark and the Technical University in Munich, Germany.
 
Asked if he hoped his involvement in the KTH project might help inspire future Swedish astronauts, he said:
 
"Ha ha yeah maybe, but that is not the main motive for me. It is good to get more students to learn about space though, it is very important."
 
He said that while many people associate space research with expensive missions that involve sending humans into space, "there is a lot more going on in terms of unmanned satellites, which is incredibly valuable".
 
"Space research has helped the world improve navigation and communication thanks to satellites. We can also use satellites to observe natural disasters and even monitor the Ebola outbreak and climate change," he said.
 

A similar satellite to the one students will be making. Photo: Christer Fugelsang
 
The mini-satellite being produced by KTH students will be roughly the size of a shoe box and is expected to weigh around 4kg.
 
It will orbit at around 500 to 650km from Earth and remain there for up to 25 years.
 
The craft hasn't been named yet, but a shortlist of student suggestions has been compiled by Christer Fuglesang.
 
You can vote on your favourite by heading to the KTH Space Centre website.
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