Society 22/03/2021

Enxaneta, Catalonia's first nanosatellite, successfully launched

The device is backed by the Generalitat and will be used for the internet of things

2 min
The Iberian Peninsula as seen from the International Space Station

BarcelonaThe first Catalan nanosatellite, Enxaneta, lifted off this morning at 7.07 after the launch had to be postponed twice this weekend. Monitoring the flow of rivers and water reserves, tracking wildlife and being able to protect it, receiving weather data from stations in remote places or watching herds and crops to detect diseases and define more efficient strategies will be among the tasks it will carry out from its orbit 500 kilometres above the Earth. The launch of the small device from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which could be followed live on , was due to take place this Saturday at 07:07:12 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, one of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. However, it was finally postponed twice due to technical problems. This morning it was finally launched.

The nanosatellite is part of the Catalonia's New Space Strategy, which wants to place Catalonia in the new space economy as a sector of opportunities. The device is a three-unit CubeSat that will deploy global connectivity services for the Internet of Things (IoT) throughout Catalonia. It will enable communication and data collection throughout the country, especially in areas that are currently not covered by conventional terrestrial telecommunications networks. As reported by the Generalitat, the new launch schedule will be just 24 hours later than initially planned. According to the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitri Rogozin, a "voltage surge" was detected before the launch and the decision was taken to postpone the mission.

Named Enxaneta by the children of Catalonia, the nanosatellite has been developed by Open Cosmos and Sateliot -through a contract tendered by the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC), as part of the Catalan Government's commitment to a growing sector that is expected to generate 1,200 jobs over the next four years and €280 million in turnover.

The management and control of the nanosatellites will be done through a system established in the Ground Station located at the Astronomical Observatory of Montsec (OAdM), in Sant Esteve de la Sarga (Pallars Jussà), managed by the IEEC.

Currently the NewSpace project in Catalonia consists of more than thirty start-ups, some of them world leaders, thirteen research and innovation centers and a business incubator of the European Space Agency (ESA BIC Barcelona).

A device weighing less than 10 kg

A nanosatellite are satellite weighing less than 10 kg. Because it is much smaller than conventional space devices, they are cheaper and easier to manufacture, launch and manage. Enxaneta, which is the size of a shoebox, will orbit at low altitude, about 500 kilometres from Earth, and will use standard technology.

The Generalitat's second nanosatellite will be launched at the end of this year or early 2022 and will be slightly larger, as it will consist of six units.