Launched on 26 September 2016, Algeria’s first nanosatellite AlSat-1N is still operational after positioning in its orbit three years ago.
“Several operations were carried out and the last allowed to collect data from one of the three (03) payloads, in this case, the thin-film solar cell – (TFSC),” notes the Algerian Space Agency (ASAL) in a recent statement on the status of the nanosatellite.
Developed as a bilateral collaboration between ASAL and the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) in October 2014, the 3U Cubesat was designed as technology demonstrator satellite with a nominal life of about one year in orbit. The nanosatellite has achieved its mission objectives and has exceeded its performance expectations.
“The work carried out by the satellite operating teams kept it in operational condition throughout this period. The careful monitoring of the satellite’s health parameters and the automation of a portion of the ground operations were one of the determining factors in the exceptional extension of the lifespan of the satellite in orbit,” the Agency said.
AlSat-1N programme served as an experimental programme for Algerian engineers to acquire skills in nanosatellite technology with a focus on three key areas: assembly, integration and test (AIT), environmental verification and testing (EVT), and operations, the last being essential for the continued operation of the nanosatellite.
The nanosatellite also enabled Algerian engineers to acquire skills in “all aspects of ground control satellite system engineering: planning, data collection and dissemination, telemetry analysis, reporting, maintenance in operational conditions and restoration under operational conditions after any incident”.
According to ASAL, a doctoral work is being carried out by a researcher from Center of Research in Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Geophysics (CRAAG), Mr Lemgharbi Abdenacer, on “the study of temporal variations of the geomagnetic field in Algeria from ground and satellite observations”. The data from the magnetometer embedded on Alsat-1N, are part of the data set exploited by this work. It is led by Dr Hamoudi of the University of Science and Technology Houari Boumediene (USTHB) and Dr Abtout of CRAAG.
ASAL will prepare a final report to highlight the experience gained through AlSat-1N project; detailing technology, application and academic gains of the project.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.