PROBA-2: an autonomous satellite in orbit
On the night of the 1st and 2nd of November, a Russian rocket named ‘Rockot’ placed the “Made in Belgium” micro-satellite PROBA-2 onto its heliosynchronous orbit – at an altitude of some 725km – to carry out scientific and technological experiments, alongside the ESA Earth Explorer Programme’s SMOS satellite (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity). The Liège Space Center (CSL) is heavily involved in the creation of PROBA-2: it developed the two highly miniaturised instruments which constitute an observatory of solar activity in the ultraviolet spectrum (UV) for space weather information.
A group of innovative satellites
Refined versions of this on-board intelligence, which means the satellite can act autonomously in space, can be found in the PROBA-series ESA micro-satellites, which were created by the Verhaert Space company at Kruibeke, near Anvers. After PROBA-2 which has just been launched, PROBA-V(egetation) is planned in 2012 to permanently monitor global vegetation. PROBA-3 is planned for 2013 as a training flight in the context of an astronomy mission. PROBA-IP (Interplanetary) is planned for 2015 as an asteroid flyby. Verhaert Space and Spacebel are also marketing PROBA-X, a version for spatial teledetection applications (high resolution imagery and hyperspectral vision). Spacebel has supplied control equipment to the ESA station in Redu, where operations are carried out for ESA by Redu Space Services, a joint company with SES Astra Techcom Belgium and Verhaert Space.