Baumanets student micro-satellite repeats the sad fate of its predecessor


On Nov. 28, 2017, students at the leading Russian college for rocket engineers launched their second micro-satellite more than a decade after losing the original spacecraft in a launch mishap. The Baumanets-2 satellite was intended for a series of remote-sensing and communications experiments, giving students at the Bauman Technical University in Moscow hands-on experience in building and controlling vehicles in space. Unfortunately, the second spacecraft repeated the fate of its predecessor.

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Known specifications of the Baumanets-2 satellite:

Total payload mass

116.5 kilograms, including...

  • spacecraft mass

85.5 kilograms

  • payload adapter

31 kilograms

Spacecraft dimensions

700 by 700 by 700 millimeters

Imaging system resolution

36 meters (main mode); 18 meters (add-on mode)

Imaging swath

107 kilometers

Storage capacity

128 gigabit

Data rate transmission

up to 64 megabits per second

Average capacity of the power supply system during each orbit

45 Watts

Peak capacity of power supply during 10-minute intervals

185 Watts

Attitude control accuracy

28 angular minutes

Stabilization accuracy

0.01 degrees per second

Orbital altitude

500-800 kilometers

Orbital inclination

98 degrees toward the Equator

Projected life span

1 year


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Baumanets-1 satellite

The Baumanets satellite project was conceived around 1997 at the Bauman Moscow State University, Russia's leading institution in preparing cadre for the nation's space industry. The student initiative, which was timed to mark the 175th anniversary of the school, continued a long tradition of technical colleges building their own small-scale spacecraft for training and testing purposes.

The technical design of the satellite began in 2002, when the Russian government approved the project. Its development was funded jointly by Rosaviakosmos and the Ministry of Education, which both gave a formal green light to the project on June 6, 2003.

The spacecraft was expected to perform five scientific and educational experiments with the primary goal of photographing the Earth's surface. The actual construction of the Baumanets satellite took place from 2003 to 2006 at NPO Mashinostroeniya, famous for its cruise missiles and radar-carrying satellites.

Typically for micro-satellites, Baumenets was built in the shape of a cube with sides of 700 millimeters.

The Bauman school also prepared its own mission control capable of two-way communications with the satellite. While waiting for its own spacecraft, the new center practiced in receiving images from the US Terra satellite. More than 1,000 photos were processed from March 2007 to April 2013. (822)

Unfortunately, the first Baumenets satellite was lost during the 7th mission of the Dnepr rocket on July 26, 2006.


Baumanets-2 satellite

After the loss of the Baumanets-1 satellite, there were several further attempts to develop small experimental satellites at the Bauman school. The Tros-MGTU nano-satellite, conceived around 2008, would deploy a tethered experiment and the Parus-MGTU nano-satellite project, started a year later in cooperation with RKK Energia, aimed to test a solar sail. Neither of the two projects apparently went far beyond the drawing board but the original remote-sensing satellite was rebuilt.

According to the original design, the Baumanets-2 satellite was expected to be a 460 by 530-millimeter unpressurized hexagon, closely resembling a small satellite platform developed at ISS Reshetnev for the Yubileiny project in which students from the Bauman school also participated. However, the actual development of the satellite was initially delegated to ZAO KB Polyot, a commercial spinoff from the Soviet-era rocket design bureau in the city of Omsk.

As before, the primary task of the satellite would be taking photos of the Earth's surface in four bands of optical spectrum ranging from 0.48 to 0.95 micrometers.

The satellite would also measure the attenuation of microwave radio signals with a frequency of 94 gigahertz through the atmosphere at different angles, testing the possibility of transmitting data with microwaves.

Baumanets-2 would also conduct data-transmission experiments via the Globalstar network, using the second version of the onboard computer built by Bauman students from commercially available components.

The satellite would also test a miniature low-power laser thruster, which would be used to control the satellite's attitude and even adjust its orbit.

In 2009, students from Montpellier-2 University in France were also invited to contribute an experiment testing a fast-pace qualification methods for radiation protection of electronics designed to operate in space.

The satellite would also be equipped with angular reflectors, which would be used to determine the orbital parameters of the satellite.

Final design

In 2010, the completed design of the Baumanets satellite went for a review to the TsNIIMash research institute, the key certification center of the Russian space agency. The certification process took place shortly after the failure of the two Sterkh satellites in 2009, which were also developed at ZAO KB Polyot.

Although TsNIIMash had eventually cleared the project for full-scale development, the structural failure of the gyroscopic control system aboard the Ugatusat spacecraft, which was also built at ZAO KB Polyot and failed soon after its launch in 2009, prompted more redesigns and required more funding. However, the Ministry of Education and Science decided to resume its support for the project only at the end of November 2011.

By that time, ZAO KB Polyot ran into serious financial and legal problems at the home city of Omsk and its managers complained that the company had been driven out of business by more powerful competitors.

As a result, by the beginning of 2012, the contract for the construction of the Baumanets-2 satellite went back to NPO Mashinostroeniya and the design of the micro-satellite returned to its original cubic shape. The full scale development of the newly revised project started in 2012. According to different sources, from 40 to 100 students from the Bauman school participated in the project. This big difference in the quoted number of participants clearly reflects the ups and downs of the project during its long history.

In July 2013, officials at Bauman school told the ITAR-TASS news agency that the assembly of the satellite would be completed by the end of 2013. However in October 2014, NPO Mash reported that although all the hardware for the satellite had been manufactured, optical sensors for the satellite were still undergoing interface tests with the flight control equipment, which required that a number of technical problems be resolved.

The launch of the Baumanets-2 satellite was originally expected as early as 2010, but, due to funding and technical problems, the spacecraft had to be bumped off a July 2014 ride to orbit with the Meteor-M2 satellite. In the second half of 2014, the launch of Baumanets-2 was promised in the summer of 2015, while during the MAKS-2015 air show in August, NPO Mash officials promised the launch before the end of 2015.

When in July 2016, the Governor of the Moscow Region Andrei Vorobyev visited campus of NPO Mash in Reutov, he was shown the flight version of the spacecraft ready for launch and awaiting transportation to Vostochny. However, the next real opportunity to fly for Baumanets-2 came only at the end of 2017 with the Meteor-M2-1 mission, which lifted off on November 28... and, yet again, failed to reach orbit.


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Page author: Anatoly Zak; last update: November 28, 2017

Page editor: Alain Chabot; last edit: November 27, 2017

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The Baumanets-1 satellite and its team.


The Baumanets-1 satellite under payload fairing of the Dnepr launcher.


The Baumanets satellite was expected to use a deployable boom for a more stable position in orbit. Credit: NPO Mash


The original design of the Baumanets-2 satellite featured a 460 by 530-millimeter hexagon. Credit: Montpellier-2 University



Internal design of the Baumanets-2 satellite.


Baumanets-2 under assembly.


Final assembly of the Baumanets-2 satellite. Credit: NPO Mash

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