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Ecuador - Nanosatellites

In the construction of the Ecuadorian nanosatellite Pegaso, which took a year, and its twin Krysaor, EXA and several private companies invested some $80,000, while the government contributed around $700,000 for the launch, insurance, logistics and certification tests of both satellites. The satellites serve for the development of basic education programs, high school and higher education, while continuing with national space technology testing and monitoring of dangerous objects from orbit.

In order to improve the comprehensive capabilities of China's earth observation system, in 2010, the Chinese government approved to implement China High-resolution Earth Observation System (CHEOS), to be completely activated by 2020. Space-based system consists of 7 optical/microwave satellites, launched by LM launch vehicles. The highest spatial resolution is 1 m, spectral resolution reaches nanometer level, and swath width is from dozens of km to hundreds of km.On 26 April 2013, the first satellite of CHEOS was successfully launched by LM-2D, which marked that CHEOS has entered into a new stage with features "contructing, operating, applying". This launch also carried 3 microsatellites which is made by Ecuador, Argentina, Turkey.


The NEE-02 KRYSAOR [2013-018B] is a satellite of the PEGASUS class, meaning that it is a satellite twin to NEE-01. KRYSAOR was built after PEGASUS and its current principal function is to serve as orbital repeater to receive is NAL NEE-01 PEGASUS. The NEE-02 was injected into an elliptical synchronous orbit at 97.7 degrees inclination, with a perigee of 598 km and an apogee of 720 km on November 21, 2013 at 02h10m11s. On January 25, 2014 in NEE-02 regained access to the NEE-01 signal an unprecedented operation in space history repeat module using the PERSEUS.

The NEE-02 KRYSAOR on board a micro-repeater and special antennas mounted on its wings together these subsystems make up the PERSEUS module, the NEE-02 currently retransmits the signal NEE-01 every time they fly in parallel to a maximum range of 3000kms at 650 km altitude. The mission of the NEE-02 is the same as the PEGASUS fulfilling functions orbital sentinel to monitor possible threats from near-Earth in its final approach phase and control of orbital trash bodies. In addition it brings new advances in active deployment of its solar panels, digital high-speed transmission and a camera above the PEGASUS resolution.

The Ecuadorian Civil Space Company, or EXA, captured anuary 25, 2014 the first images of South America emitted by its Krysaor satellite, which also managed to recover the audio signal from another device - the Pegaso - launched nine months ago and which was considered lost after crashing into some space debris August 2013. "The signal is stable," the Ecuadorian astronaut and director of EXA, Ronnie Nader, announced from the Samborondon space station near the city of Guayaquil in southeastern Ecuador. The first images captured were of the coastal areas of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, emitted by the nanosatellite Krysaor from an altitude of 750 kilometers (465 miles), Nader said.

NEE 01 Pegaso 1U

The NEE 01 Pegaso 1U CubeSat is the first satellite of Ecuador. Representing Ecuador’s first venture into space, Pegaso was a simple vehicle with a 10-cm cube main body and two 27-cm long solar arrays (Figure 2), circling the Earth in an orbit of approximately 627 km by 654 km.

On April 2010 the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency - EXA started the project PEGASUS, the building of the very first Ecuadorian satellite. This project was undertaken by Ecuadorian personnel only, funded by the EXA and the local industry, launch operations and testing facility development funds are provided by the Ecuadorian Defense Ministry, while space operations are to be conducted jointly between EXA and Ecuadorian Air Force personnel. The satellite was designed as a 1U cubesat; primary objective is to serve as technology and capability demonstrator while secondary objective is to serve the elementary schools of Ecuador with a space-based learning tool platform which will inspire the next generation of domestic engineers. The satellite was to conduct following tasks: Technological demonstration/Education; Test of real time video transmission; Test of Thermal/Radiation shield; Test of multiphase solar array; Test of passive antenna deployment; and Test of carbon nanotubes thermal control system.

On April 4, 2011 the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency – EXA- unveiled the first Ecuadorian satellite, the NEE-01 PEGASUS, designed and built completely in the country by a team of national engineers. The NEE-01 PEGASUS is a nanosatellite, of the cubesat 1U class, it has a cubic shape and two solar panel wings with 3 panels on each side for a total of 6 panels per wing, its dimensions are 10 by 10 by 75 centimeters (4 by 4 by 30 inches) with its solar wings completely deployed and weights 1.2 kilos, it has an onboard camera which will allow the spacecraft to take pictures and transmit live video from space.

The launch into orbit was planned for the 3rd quarter of year 2012 onboard a Russian rocket. The satelite was originally planned to be launched piggy-back on a Dnepr rocket, but was moved due to delays to a Chinese CZ-2D (2) launch in 2013. On April 25, 2013 at 23h13m00s local time, Ecuador launched or its first satellite [2013-018B] into space, the NEE-01 PEGASUS, its first streaming video was captured by the earth station HERMES-A on May 5, 2013.

The satellite has been completely designed and built in the country, without any foreign assistance, by an EXA engineering team led by Cmdr. Ronnie Nader, Ecuador’s first cosmonaut, and engineers Sidney Drouet, Manuel Uriguen, Héctor Carrión y Ricardo Allú, the project took almost 2 years since its conception in April 2009. Besides the live video signal, the spacecraft will send a constant radio signal that will act as a beacon, consisting in its identification and the Ecuador’s national anthem.

The satellite’s primary mission is to test the basic and key technologies that will allow the EXA to build bigger and more powerful spacecrafts in the future and the secondary mission is to serve as an space platform for elementary education: The satellite will send two signals that will be received and decoded by the EXA’s HERMES-A ground station in Guayaquil and then uploaded live to the Internet using Twitter and Facebook; the first signal will contain text book questions and the second will contain an image related to the question. If the students are able to answer the question correctly they will be granted access to the video camera onboard the spacecraft and will be able to see earth from space as the astronauts see it in their space missions.

More advanced students will have access to the pure radio signal so they can try decoding it by themselves. The EXA will provide them with the appropriate support software free of charge. The satellite carries many advanced technologies which by themselves are firsts for this kind of spacecrafts: It will become the first nanosatellite able to transmit live video from space, is the first of its kind in being equipped with a multilayer shield composed by polymers and alloys that allows the spacecraft to withstand solar flares and other space hazards, it is the first to have a thermal stabilization system based in carbon nanotubes, it has the world’s most thin solar panels, measuring only 1.5 millimeters thick, made of 99.98% pure titanium and it’s the first in its class to have multiple deployable solar panels, also it has the biggest power matrix ever carried by a 1U cubesat with 28.8 amperes of total installed capacity in a volume of only 200 cubic centimeters.

All this are novel technologies and have been created by the EXA in Ecuador, the project financing was jointly undertaken by the EXA and the local industry. For the launch and operations phase of the project the EXA has requested the involvement of the Ecuadorian Air Force to jointly operate the satellite and share the technical and scientifically benefits of the experience and to help the Ecuadorian youth with the educational capabilities of the satellite.

On 23 May 2013 the NEE-01 PEGASUS suffered an anomaly in orbit that caused or loss of attitude and physical damage to the satellite, just after a close encounter with the SCC-15890. On the previous day, the U.S. Joint Space Operations Center had notified Ecuador that a 28-year-old Soviet rocket body (International Designator 1985-058B, U.S. Satellite Number 15890) would come close to Pegaso on 23 May as it passed over the Indian Ocean. Both vehicles would be heading south, Pegaso from east to west and the Soviet rocket body from west to east.

In a contact with Pegaso after the conjunction, the Ecuadorian Civil Space Agency noticed that the spacecraft was no longer in a stable attitude. An assumption was made that the Soviet rocket body was somehow responsible for the change in Pegaso’s condition. However, detailed post-conjunction assessments indicated that the rocket body passed under Pegaso at a safe distance. In addition, the U.S. Space Surveillance Network detected no new debris from either vehicle, as would be expected if a collision had occurred.

A suggestion was made that small particles from the rocket body might have impacted Pegaso and disrupted its very delicate balance. For many years, orbital debris researchers have been aware that small debris clouds (called debris wakes) accompany some resident space objects. The debris are believed to be formed by degradation of surface materials and impacts by small particles. These debris, though, would normally extend down from the parent satellite, a geometry which would not lead to interactions with Pegaso.

The hit caused the satellite to lose attitude, but it was still transmitting. The NEE-01 survived or the anomaly and remains in orbit. Because of this problem, it could not point the antenna correctly and stably to the earth station and though it still was transmitting and running, its signal could not be decoded. The Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency worked or tirelessly to stabilize the NEE-01 and recover the use of its signal. On 25 January 2014 the NEE-01 Pegasus was recovred by NEE-02 Krysaor [2013-018B]. The NEE-02 Krysaor in an onboard micro-repeater withspecial antennas mounted on its wings 0 together these subsystems make up the PERSEUS module. The NEE-02 currently retransmits the signal NEE-01 every time they fly in parallel to a maximum range of 2000kms at 650 km altitude.

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