Technology designed and built by students at Cranfield University, has today been launched into space on the European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) satellite. Launch occurred last night (3 December 2018) at 19:34 CET on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, (US). 

ESEO, which is a European Space Agency (ESA) educational satellite, features technology and experiments from teams from ten European universities including Cranfield. 

ESEO is part of ESA Academy’s hands-on space programme designed to provide university students across Europe with the unique opportunity to gain significant practical experience in the design, development, launch and operations of a real space project.

Cranfield students have designed and built a De-Orbiting Mechanism, a technology demonstration experiment which will deploy a drag sail at the end of the satellite mission. The technology will increase the ESEO atmospheric drag, reducing the time to re-entry, ensuring the satellite does not contribute to accumulating space debris in low Earth orbit. 

Dr Jenny Kingston, Senior Lecturer in Space Systems at Cranfield University, who supported the students with their project, said: “This has been a great team effort by the students, built on their dedication, innovation and perservance. We are incredibly proud of what they have achieved and are excited to see the results of their endeavours on ESEO.”

Today’s launch comes after years of close collaboration between ESA and ten European universities, with over 600 students from ESA Member States involved in developing all the ESEO scientific and technology demonstration payload, key sub-systems, and the entire ground segment. 

“Thanks to the determination, dedication and efforts of many stakeholders, ESEO is eventually in orbit! For the Education Office, it is a mission accomplished,” said Hugo Marée, Head of the ESA Education Office. “For the students’ teams and their professors, the ESEO mission continues with the acquisition of data and their processing. I wish that this new phase of the ESEO project brings them as much pride and satisfaction as we are feeling now.”  

ESEO will operate for six months, with a possibility to extend its mission for another 12 months. 

“ESA Education is immensely proud of the hard work and dedication of European university students and their institutions, of the critical technical support it received from across the Agency and of the commitment of industry partners for making the dream of a student space project a flying reality”, concluded Piero Galeone, Head of the ESA Academy, which tracked the ESEO project in all its phases.  




About Cranfield University

Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.