Austrian Nanosatellites

Within the last decade, a new field of competence has emerged in Austria, the so-called nanosatellites. They are small satellites with a weight between 1 and 10 kg.

Since 2013, four nanosatellites have been launched for scientific purposes. They transmit data of very bright stars (TUGSAT-1, UniBRITE), explore the thermosphere (PEGASUS) or test and validate new techniques in mission control and on-board systems (OPS-SAT).

The increasing expertise in nano satellites goes along with the adoption of the Austrian Outer Space Act in 2011.

TUGSAT-1 / BRITE-Austria

illustration tugsat 1

TUGSAT-1 is Austria's first satellite. Development of TUGSAT-1, an optical astronomy spacecraft, started 2005. It was launched in 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India. It was developed by Graz University of Technology, University of Vienna & Vienna University of Technology and is operated by Graz University of Technology. The mission duration was supposed to be two years, however the satellite is operational. It continues to deliver high quality imagery and scientific data. TUGSAT-1, is part of the BRITE-Constellation, currently the only active space mission regarding Asteroseismology.

  • Programme: BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) Constellation
  • Funding: Austrian Space Applications Programme (ASAP)

UniBrite

illustration UniBrite

UniBRITE, an optical astronomy spacecraft, was launched (together with its sister satellite TUGSAT-1) in 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota/India. It was developed by Graz University of Technology, University of Vienna and Vienna University of Technology and is operated by the University of Vienna. Together with TUGSAT-1 and three other nanosatellites, UniBrite investigates 'the stellar structure and evolution of the brightest stars in the sky and their interaction with the local environment.'

  • Programme: BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) Constellation
  • Funding: Austrian Space Applications Programme (operations)

PEGASUS

illustration pegasus satellite

PEGASUS, an Earth observation spacecraft, is part of the QB50 satellite programme and was launched in 2017 from India. One of the main missions of the QB50 programme was giving students all over the world the chance to develop and operate a satellite. In Austria, students from the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, Vienna University of Technology and University of Vienna, in cooperation with the Austrian Space Forum, developed PEGASUS. It is still active and transmitting data.


  • Programme: QB50, a network of 36 nanosatellites built by university teams all over the world.
  • Funding: European Union Horizon 2020, Austrian Space Applications Programme (pulsed plasma thruster).

OPS-SAT

illustration OPS-SAT

The CubeSat OPS-SAT was launched on 18thof December 2019 from the Kourou space port in French Guayana on board a Soyuz VS23 rocket. OPS-SAT is the only flying laboratory in the world. "The world's only spacecraft freely open for public use, OPS-SAT will show us what satellites are capable of when carrying state of the art equipment, demonstrating continuing improvements in mission control capabilities and illustrating just what space technology can achieve."

OPS-SAT was developed by Graz University of Technology.

Programme and funding:
European Space Agency (General Support Technology Programme).