SCOTLAND’S first space satellite has been launched successfully in Kazakhstan.
The team behind UKube-1 cheered at their headquarters in Glasgow as the space mission got under way.
The nanosatellite, designed and manufactured by Clyde Space, is about the size of a shoe box and features GPS devices aimed at measuring space weather, as well as a camera that will take images of the Earth.
It was launched at 5pm UK time from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, aboard a Russian Soyuz-2 rocket.
Craig Clark, Clyde Space chief executive, said: “I’m delighted that the launch went so smoothly and the UKube-1 mission is under way.
“This is a very significant day for Clyde Space and we are now looking forward to more space missions and further success.
“It is fantastic that a spacecraft designed, built and tested in Scotland by a Scottish company has been so successful and I’d like to thank everyone who backed us and contributed to this amazing project.”
The satellite is part of the national collaborative CubeSat programme and will also carry a payload of five experiments that UK students and the public can interact with.
It will orbit at a distance of around 635 kilometres and the mission is due to last for a year, though the satellite itself will have a life-span of up to five years.
The launch was welcomed by First Minister Alex Salmond who heralded it as “one nanosatellite and one giant leap for Scottish space exploration”.
He said: “Clyde Space was running final tests from their headquarters at the West of Scotland Science Park in Maryhill when I had the opportunity to take a close-up look at Scotland’s first satellite: the UKube-1.
“The space sector offers huge economic potential for Scottish companies. Today’s launch of the UKube-1 is a landmark occasion for Clyde Space - and indeed for Scotland - and is another clear example of scientific and engineering excellence demonstrated by our country’s entrepreneurial innovators.”
Andrew Strain, vice-president of engineering at Clyde Space, has recently returned from Baikonur where he supervised the integration of UKube-1 on to the rocket at Launch Site 31.
He said: “After four years working on the UKube project, it’s fantastic to have launched successfully and we now look forward to getting the first contact from the satellite which is expected around 10pm tonight.
“This is very exciting day for all of us at Clyde Space and we look forward to further major developments as the company progresses.”