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PW-Sat, the first polish student satellite.jpg
PW-Sat is the first Polish-built satellite.
Mission type Technology
Operator Polish Academy of Sciences (Space Research Centre)
COSPAR ID 2012-006G
SATCAT № 38083
Mission duration 1 year
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type 1U CubeSat
Manufacturer Warsaw University of Technology (Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering)
Launch mass 1 kilogram (2.2 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date 13 February 2012, 10:00:00 (2012-02-13UTC10Z) UTC
Rocket Vega VV01
Launch site Kourou ELV
Contractor Arianespace
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 300 kilometres (190 mi)
Apogee 1,023 kilometres (636 mi)
Inclination 69.47 degrees
Period 97.83 minutes
Epoch 9 November 2013, 01:40:17 UTC[1]

PW-Sat is the first Polish artificial satellite which was launched 13 February 2012 from ELA-1 at Guiana Space Centre aboard Italian-built Vega launch vehicle during its maiden voyage.[2] Its mission was to test experimental elastic solar cells, as well as an orbital decay technology consisting of a "tail" designed to speed re-entry. It was expected to last for 1 year.[2]

PW-Sat was a type of CubeSat satellite and it was constructed by the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering of Warsaw University of Technology, in cooperation with the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences,[3] and is the first Polish satellite.[4]


The PW-Sat project was created in 2004 when group of students from Warsaw University of Technology decided to build satellite compatible with CubeSat 1U standard.[4] Initially planned for a 2007 launch, delays in the development of the Vega caused the mission to be postponed until 2012. The cost of the project is estimated to be 200,000 Polish zloty (63,205 USD), with funding coming from the university's budget, as well as from an agreement between Poland and the European Space Agency.


PW-Sat is a 10x10x10 cm cube with a mass of 1 kg. It is equipped with the following hardware:

  • EPS: power module
  • ANTS: antenna management system
  • COM: communication compartment
  • PLD: elastic solar cells management sub-system
  • OBC: main computer
  • access port
  • elastic solar cells (part of primary mission)
  • atmospheric drag device (part of primary mission)
  • AX.25 transceiver
  • CW beacon transmitting on 145.901 MHz for tracking by radio amateurs


PW-Sat lifted off 13 February 2012, 10:00 UTC from ELA-1 at Guiana Space Centre (Kourou, French Guiana) aboard the maiden flight of the Vega rocket, together with LARES and ALMASat-1 satellites and 6 other CubeSats built by various European universities.[2][5] It was deployed 1 hour 10 minutes into the flight from the P-POD-2 container, along with the ROBUSTA and MaSat-1 CubeSats.[6]

First signals from satellite were received around 12:10 UTC by radio amateurs.[2] The first Polish reception of PW-Sat's signals came at 12:15 UTC by CAMK in Warsaw.[6]

PW-Sat will stay in orbit until 2013, when it will perform a destructive atmospheric reentry.[2] However, the problems with satellite's energy balance and changes of orbital conditions (satellite will fly over Poland in shadow) delays deployment of tail. Commands of tail deployment were sent from Earth on April and May 2012, but PW-Sat did not accept them.[7] Due to hardware issue with communication module (that was discovered on a few other cube sats using the same model) communication with satellite was problematic and tail couldn't be extended. [8]

Development of a successor, PW-Sat 2, begun in September 2013 with launch planned for 2015.

See also[edit]