BRITE-AUSTRIA - Development of the First Austrian Nanosatellite - Phase 1 & 2

The purpose of the BRITE-AUSTRIA / TUGSAT-1 project, funded by the Austrian Space Program, is the development of the first Austrian satellite. The scientific goal of this nanosatellite mission is the investigation of the brightness oscilla tions of massive luminous stars by differential photometry.

Short Description

The scientific instrument is an optical camera with a high-resolution CCD to take images from distant stars with magnitude of 3.5. The spacecraft has a size of 20 x 20 x 20 cm and weighs 6.5 kg. It carries three computers: instrument processor, housekeeping and attitude control computer. 6-10 W of electrical power will be generated by solar cells.

The telemetry operates in the science S-band for the downlink and in the UHF band for the uplink. In addition, a VHF beacon is provided. The data rate lies between 32 to 256 kbit/s and the normal daily downlink volume amounts to 2 Mbyte. The satellite makes use of recent advances in miniaturised attitude determination and control systems. Precision three-axis stabilisation by small reaction wheels and a star tracker guarantee a pointing accuracy down to arc minute level. This will provide the astronomers with photometric data of the most massive stars with unprecedented precision which cannot be obtained from the ground due to limitations imposed by the terrestrial atmosphere.

The target orbit is polar or sun-synchronous with a height of 800 km. The Mission Control Centre is currently set up in Graz. Additional ground stations are operated in Toronto and Vienna.

  • Phase 1 of the project is concerned with the design, development and qualification testing of the spacecraft. Flight Readiness Review is planned for the end of 2008. The preliminary design was accepted in November 2006 and the specifications finalised in February 2008. Hardware construction and integration starts in April 2008.
  • Phase 2 deals with the investigation of launch opportunities and the development of the ground operations and science software. Launch is planned for the second quarter of 2009, depending on suitable piggy-back flights. 

The inter-disciplinary project is carried out by space experts at the various institutes with strong involvement of diploma and PhD students. A major goal is sustainability. TU Graz is planning to develop a generic satellite platform which can be used for future low-cost space missions, a project which receives interest from the scientific community and industry.

Project Partners


Institute of Communication Networks and Satellite Communications, Graz University of Technology - Prof. Otto Koudelka


  • Institute of Astronomy, University of Vienna - Prof. Werner W. Weiss
  • Institute of Communications and Radio Frequency, Engineering, Vienna University of Technology - Prof. Arpad Scholtz

International Partner

Space Flight Laboratory, University of Toronto, Canada - Dr. Rob Zee

Contact Address