Minairó, the third satellite mission promoted by the Government of Catalonia as part of the NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia, has already reached space. The launch of the nanosat that will serve the mission took place at 8.47 am Spanish time from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California in the United States, aboard a Falcon 9 launch rocket made by the American company SpaceX, which was also carrying up to 50 other payloads, including other nanosatellites, microsatellites and space tugs. Exactly 67 minutes later, the launch rocket ejected the Catalan nanosat into its target orbit more than 500 km from Earth.
The launch, initially scheduled for 11 April and postponed until today due to weather conditions, could be followed live on the SpaceX website, where the full video of the rocket’s lift-off and the launch of the satellites into orbit will also be available as of today.
The Catalan Minister for Business and Labour, Roger Torrent, expressed his satisfaction at the successful launch of this third mission of the NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia: “This is a historic launch of an innovative satellite, one that will provide an essential service to achieve the objectives of the Minairó mission and thus continue advancing in the technological development and promotion of the Catalan NewSpace ecosystem in the country and the world.”
Led by the Generalitat de Catalunya and managed by the i2CAT Foundation, Minairó is a highly innovative technological mission that aims to demonstrate the use cases of the new 5G NB-IoT connectivity protocol via satellite and to deploy an ‘in-orbit laboratory’ to validate technologies and services developed in Catalonia.
The ‘in-orbit laboratory’, developed and managed by the i2CAT Foundation, will make it possible to validate the innovative concept of flexible payloads that can be reprogrammed in-flight to facilitate the execution of various functions and services adapted to different use cases and challenges, such as crop monitoring, water resource management, transport and goods control, and remote infrastructure management.
These goals will be achieved thanks to the IoT communications service that will be provided by the nanosatellite launched today from California: a 6U CubeSat (consisting of six 10-cm3 units) weighing approximately 10 kg and created by the Catalan company Sateliot (the same company that designed and developed the Enxaneta nanosatellite), which will orbit the Earth at a speed of around 8 km/s and will pass over Catalonia approximately every 5 days. This nanosat, the first ever to be launched under the 5G standard, will cover the entire earth’s surface and allow any IoT device to connect via satellite or mobile to any location.
Today’s launch marked the start of the NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia’s third satellite mission after Enxaneta (also an IoT communications mission) and the Menut Earth observation mission. Led by the Catalan Government, the strategy is designed to exploit and maximise the opportunities offered by this new area of economic growth based on the use of small, low-altitude satellites and the exploitation of their data.
As such, the strategy promotes satellite missions with the aim of evaluating the adoption of this technology in the services of the Generalitat de Catalunya and driving its development in the different productive sectors. At the same time, it aims to place the Catalan space ecosystem on the international playing field in this new emerging area and promote the generation, attraction and retention of talent in Catalonia.