Ecuadorean Nanosatellite Collides, Remains in Orbit

By Dialogo
May 24, 2013

Ecuadorean nanosatellite “Pegaso”, launched into orbit on April 25, suffered a lateral collision with particles of a Russian rocket, and although it remains in orbit, it will be known if it is still operational in a few hours, reported the country’s Space Civil Agency (EXA) on May 23, after the collision.

“The North American Space Command gave us confirmation that there was no direct collision,” said EXA director Ronnie Nader, through his Twitter account.

“Pegaso remains in orbit”, added the first and only Ecuadorean astronaut, who said that data shows there was a “lateral collision with particles.”

According to Nader, the actual condition of the nanosatellite will only be verified in the next few hours. “Pegaso could be damaged or in an uncontrolled rotation, but since it remains in orbit, we are hopeful,” he highlighted.

Pegaso, which measures 10 × 10 cm, has solar panel attachments that reach 75 cm when fully opened, and weighs 1.2 kg, transmitted its first video images with real-time audio on May 16, after having been launched into space in an unmanned rocket from the Jiuquan station in China.

The launch took place among great media flurry in Ecuador, including a live broadcast arranged by the government and President Rafael Correa’s presence at the control center in Guayaquil.

The nanosatellite was built and put together in Ecuador at a cost of $80,000 donated by the private sector, while the government destined $700,000 for the launch, insurance, logistics and the unit’s certification tests, all done in the Netherlands in February.

Ecuador expects to launch a second nanosatellite, called Krysaor, into space from Russia next July, a unit with the same characteristics as Pegaso.