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External and internal design of the Aist satellite. (Click red arrows to toggle the view)

Previous chapter: Bion-M satellites series

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Aist to give students a learning tool in space

The 53-kilogram Aist satellite was developed on the initiative of Samara State Aerospace University, SGAU, under a patronage of the nation's major spacecraft developer -- TsSKB Progress -- located in the same city. During its projected three-year mission, the satellite would test sensors for measurement of the geomagnetic field and systems for dumping low-frequency accelerations onboard the spacecraft with the Magkom experiment. It would also try to detect and register natural and artificial physical particles in space the Meteor sensors. The spacecraft would also test advanced types of solar cells made out of Gallium arsenide, GaAs, compound.

The satellite was to have capability to store and transmit information to ground stations, to send radio signals to amateurs and even provide communications exchanges between higher learning institutions in Samara and foreign universities.

The satellite was promised to have capability to use GPS and GLONASS navigation networks for the determination of its orbital parameters.

In the course of the project, TsSKB Progress manufactured to flight vehicles: one for initial prototype testing and another as a fully functional vehicle. TsSKB Progress indicated that the Aist could become a platform for future experiments

SGAU's foray into space

With the launch of Aist, SGAU will join the exclusive club of high-technology universities around the world with their own learning tool in space. One of Russia's key suppliers of engineering talent to the domestic aviation and rocket industry, SGAU was born in the trying days of World War II. In 1941, in the face of Nazi armies' advance toward Moscow, a number of Soviet aviation companies were evacuated to a present day city of Samara (then Kuibyshev). In 1942, an aviation institute was established in the same city to train engineers for the new industrial base in the region. Since then, the aviation institute grew to become one of the leading suppliers of cadre for the industry. As of 2009, 12,000 students and 900 teachers were part of SGAU and its branches in the region. (635)

In orbit

Two days after the launch onboard the Bion-M No. 1 satellite on April 19, 2013, TsSKB Progress announced that the Aist-1 satellite separated from its host spacecraft on April 21, at 18:02 Moscow Time and its telemetry was received by the company's ground station, confirming normal operation of the satellite.

A month later, on May 21, TsSKB Progress reported that Aist was in final stages of flight testing, which so far revealed normal operation, including readings from the solar-powered electric system. As of May 20, the satellite conducted 212 communication sessions with ground control, the company said.


On Jan. 22, 2014, TsSKB Progress announced that the company's Scientific and Technical Council had reviewed the preliminary design of the Aist-2 satellite, which would be developed in 2015. The company completed the preliminary design of the new version of the Aist satellite in cooperation with Samara State Aerospace University, SGAU, and Samara State University, SamGU, which were responsible for its scientific instruments and with the Volga Telecommunications and Informatics University, PGUTI, which was developing the satellite's new ground-penetrating UHF radar. The satellite will also carry an innovative infrared sensors, which do not require cooling system. It would be used to obtain night-time imagery and detect sources of small wild fires.



Known specifications of the Aist (147KS) satellite:

Official name
Spacecraft industrial designation
Spacecraft manufacturing index (at TsSKB Progress)
Spacecraft mass (including adapter)
53 kilograms
Orbital altitude
575 kilometers
Orbital inclination
64.9 degrees toward the Equator
Projected life span
No less than 3 years
Prime developer
Samara State Aerospace University, SGAU
Ground control
A single site at TsSKB Progress campus in Samara


Planned missions of the Aist satellite:

Launch date
Launch vehicle
Mission details
2013 April 19*
Operational satellite released from Bion-M No. 1*
2013 Dec. 28
Prototype of the satellite

*Separation from the Bion-M No. 1 satellite was scheduled on the third day of the flight (April 21) 52 hours 20 minutes after reaching orbit, during 34-35 orbit of the Bion-M No. 1 mission.


Next chapter: MiR (Yubileiny) educational satellite

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Writing and photography by Anatoly Zak; Last update: January 24, 2014

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A full-scale mockup of the Aist satellite displayed at the Moscow Air and Space Show in 2009. Copyright © 2009 Anatoly Zak


The architecture and key components of the Aist satellite circa 2010. Credit: TsSKB Progress


The Aist satellite installed on the service module of the Bion-M No. 1 satellite on April 11, 2013. Credit: Roskosmos