Alén Space develops a nanosatellite for the Alfa Crux mission from the University of Brasilia

Alén Space

Alén Space joins the Alfa Crux project from the University of Brasilia (UnB) to develop a 1U CubeSat that will allow research and experiments to be carried out in the communications field. The mission, supported by the Fundação de Apoio a Pesquisa do Distrito Federal (FAPDF) and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), will also study the effects of the space weather on satellite communications in equatorial latitudes.

team of students from UnB will participate in the development of a complete CubeSat-type mission, from its design to the integration of subsystems and payload, performing verification tests and operating the satellite once in orbit. All this will be possible thanks to Alén Space’s partnership with UnB allowing the use of its facilities through a hands-on training programme.

The integration and validation of the CubeSat will take place this summer at Alén Space’s facilities, with the presence of the Brazilian students. The goal is for the nanosatellite to be ready and delivered to the launcher in October or November 2021. This planning will allow the complete mission to be carried out in a record time of eight months.

The project takes advantage of Alén Space’s more than 12 years of experience designing, manufacturing, and operating small satellites.

Together, the Galician and Brazilian teams will work on the Alfa Crux satellite, a 1U platform, which includes a power system, solar panels, batteries, on-board computer, communications system, antennas and structure; on-board and mission control software; TOTEM SDR communications payload, prepared to provide communications demonstrations and to carry out SDR (Software Defined Radio) experiments. On the top of all it, an integral GS-Kit solution for the installation of a satellite tracking ground station at the University of Brasilia.

The Alfa Crux project can help position Brasilia as key point to all activity related to the so-called New Space. The mission is coordinated by Renato Borges, professor at the UnB, who explains that “Our mission is called Alfa Crux after the Alpha Crucis star, the brightest star in the southern constellation Crux (the Southern Cross), and among the brightest stars in the sky. The motivation to choose Alfa Crux as the mission’s name comes from the fact that the Southern Cross is the best-known constellation of those we can see in the southern hemisphere. It has a special importance in navigation and orientation, being known since the ancient Greeks time. The Alpha Crucis star appears in the Brazilian flag, and in the Brazilian coat of arms. It is a synonymous of guide, reference, and consequently responsibility and excellence. In this sense, it summarizes the general goals of this space mission: become a reference of excellence and dedication, and an example to be followed as an approach for the advance of the space activities in the new space era.”

In the words of Alberto González, CTO and co-founder of Alén Space, “Alfa Crux is a great example of mission to set the foundations of a New Space program in Brazil and we are very happy to have the opportunity to cooperate and put our technology and expertise at the service of the UnB team. Our technology demonstrates again that it can be useful for different applications and UnB has come with innovative fields of use for it. We are sure that this will be the one of a series of projects and missions for UnB and we are glad to participate in this roadmap.”