Orbital challenges: PUCP’s innovation in satellites

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Engr. David Torres and Engr. Rafael Vílchez, representatives of the PUCP in the Peruvian delegation that participated in the APSCO Microsatellites Contest.

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(Español) David Torres, Oscar Marín, Reyner Montes de Oca y Rafael Vílchez formaron la delegación peruana que representó al proyecto Linku

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(Español) Delegación del proyecto Linku junto a Victor Vanini, Jefe del Departamento de Educación y entrenamiento de APSCO, y el Dr. Li Xinjun, Secretario General de APSCO, durante la premiación a los equipos participantes.

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(Español) Fotografía grupal de todos los participantes en el Concurso de Microsatélites.

A team made up of three Peruvian universities and led by PUCP presented their Linku satellite proposal at the World Microsatellite Contest held in the city of Xi´an, China, managing to rank third amongst several participants.

This achievement came as a result of two months of work and joint preparation between the INRAS-PUCP team, the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería – UNI and the Universidad Católica San Pablo of Arequipa, all summed up on a twenty minute presentation before a jury made up of aerospace subject’s specialists and an audience. “After the deliberation of the jury, we felt great joy at having received this recognition competing against countries that are powerhouses in space technology”, comments David Torres, electronic engineer, graduate student at PUCP.

“It was an extremely competitive event. However, many of what was presented was years in the making”, says Rafael Vílchez, the team’s mentor as he recalls having received the invitation to participate only two months prior from CONIDA.

The subsystems of the Linku microsatellite, which means sphere in Quechua, where design and simulated by the teams of the three universities in a joint effort. The satellite is a union of two satellites by means od a rope. The use of strings in space is a technology that has been experimented with, with mixed results since 1967. Due to new technologies and the low cost of Cubesat satellites it is currently possible to experiment in order to find a fail-safe method as failures usually occur on the deployment mechanism or the conception of the experiment itself.

“The project has a strategy behind it. At INRAS, we have 10 years since we started making satellites. With this experience, we have the strategy of launching satellites from other satellites so that our project is attractive for its potential applications and innovation. The idea was to propose a solution to an engineering problem that remains a challenge for many satellite missions. Thus, a more secure method of two satellites connected by a wire was proposed, it was a great challenge”, indicates Jorge Heraud, director of the Institute for Radio Astronomy (INRAS) at PUCP.
A fundamental part of the project was the review of technical publications. “It was a new issue for us as INRAS. But this also opened new prospects for future applications. For example, if we make the material of this wire conductive, we can take advantage of the Earth’s magnetic field and research applications for energy and management of space debris that are of interest for the exploration of space and humanity, ”says David
The World Microsatellite Contest was held from October 24 to November 2 in the city of Xi’an, China where 36 proposals were presented, 24 were finalists and Peru was finally ranked third amongst the winning groups. They competed against China, Russia, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Thailand, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, with Peru being the only representative from Latin America.

The team that traveled to China, was formed by David Torres Poma, from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Óscar Anderson Marín Tejeda, from the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería and Rayner Miguel Montes de Oca Llamoca, from the Universidad Católica San Pablo of Arequipa. The project tutor was Engr. Rafael Vílchez Dávila from the PUCP Radio Astronomy Institute. The universities were summoned by the PUCP through the general coordinator of the project, Dr. Jorge Heraud, attending the order of the National Commission for Aerospace Research and Development (CONIDA), representative of the Peruvian State before the Asia Pacific Organization for Space Cooperation (APSCO ) and his request to the headmaster of the PUCP.