First Hungarian private satellite ends successful mission in a blaze

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Having had outlived its designed six-month lifespan by another four months, the first Hungarian private satellite, ATL-1, has ended its decaying orbit by burning up upon reentry into the atmosphere, news portal Origo reports.

It orbited the Earth for 10 months, which was well beyond its planned six-month period of operation. The satellite also successfully performed a special materials science experiments. 

The ATL-1 satellite was a 5x5x10 centimeter column, jointly developed by ATL Kft. And H-ION Kft, with the co-financing of the European Union and the Hungarian state. It was designed to perform tests of heat insulating materials and it orbited the Earth for ten months on an average orbit of 365 kilometers, completing some 5,000 full orbits during its lifetime, covering about 205 million kilometers.

The satellite signals were received by 4.5- and 3-meter-diameter satellite dishes located at the Budapest Technical University (BME). Every time the satellite was in view of the dishes, data transfer rate was increased, allowing larger amounts of data to be downloaded per unit of energy consumption. During the 10-month mission, 254,000 data packets were received.

Hungarian experts have never before performed materials science tests in the cosmos

The satellite’s main mission was to perform tests on a new family of thermal insulation materials in a real space environment. Hungarian companies have never performed such material testing and certification experiments in space.

The ATL-1 had four onboard batteries. Three of these were coated with thin but different alumina-based special layers, which were one milimeter thick on average. The fourth, with a traditional insulating material, was the reference battery. Employees of the companies investigated which version has better thermal insulation properties against the cold of outer space.

As the satellite passed from hot sunlit zones to the Earth’s shade several times a day, the resulting huge temperature differences provided an ideal environment for testing the Hungarian-developed thermal insulation materials. According to the first data, results produced by the new materials are promising.

Title image: The ATL-1, Hungary’s first private micro-satellite. (source: Attila Komáromi, ATL Kft.)

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