The KAIST nanosatellite LINK (Little Intelligent Nanosatellite of KAIST) was successfully launched on an Atlas V booster aboard the NASA CRS-7 Mission on April 18 at Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The KAIST nanosatellite was developed by the research team led by Professor Hyochoong Bang of the Department of Aerospace Engineering.
Aboard the flight to the ISS (International Space Station) were 28 satellites including LINK. They are part of the QB50 Project, an international educational initiative which aims to deploy an array of CubeSat-mounted sensors into Earth’s thermosphere. The project is funded by the European Commission and managed by the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Belgium.
The small satellites are hitching a lift into orbit aboard the unmanned resupply spacecraft Cygnus, with a total mass of 83 kilograms. Built to CubeSat specifications, Cygnus will deploy four of the spacecraft following its departure from the space station. LINK will conduct its scientific mission for three months at the station.
The majority of QB50 satellites carry one of three standard instrument packages, consisting of a primary instrument and an array of thermistors, thermocouples, and resistant temperature detectors. LINK is a two-unit CubeSat and weighs two kilograms. It carries an ion-neutral mass spectrometer (INMS), which measures the mass of ions and neutral atoms, as the primary payload of the QB50 project. The secondary payload is two Langmuir probes, which are in-house sensors (m-NLP) developed by Professor Kyong Wook Min’s team of the Department of Physics at KAIST. These are all geared toward collecting long-term continuous in-situ measurements of conditions in Earth’s lower thermosphere.
Professor Bang said, “The QB50 Project is being used for educational purposes. However, the LINK launch will bring a new breakthrough toward collecting information on Earth’s lower thermosphere. Building on these experiences of designing and launching the CubeSat will serve as an opportunity to verify the research results made in our lab firsthand in space.”