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TUBSAT-A is a university satellite for Store & Forward communication developed by Prof. U. Renner. It was launched as secondary payload to ERS-1 with Ariane V44 from Kourou, French Guiana on July 17, 1991, becoming one of the first university-class spacecrafts ever. The orbit was defined by the primary payload ERS-1 (earth observation) and is a sunsynchronous orbit with a altitude of 780km. The satellite was in operation for more than 16 years!

One of the many communication experiments was a pilot project with U. Fielitz of University of Gottingen to investigate the spatial distribution and migration of
red deer in the north German mountain range Harz. The measurements were conducted in 1995 using satellite telemetry and radio transmitters mounted on the deer. It was not only a test of the applicability of the satellite for wildlife research purposes, but also a study to provide data on the size of the deer’s home ranges and seasonal migrations in this area. The success of this experiment has engendered other animal tracking experiments with TUBSAT-A in the German Harz forest, with the Finnish Institute for Wildlife and Fish Research and the Institute of Geography of the University of Oulu in Finnish Lappland (1997).

TUBSAT-A became an important tool also for arctic expeditions. Equipped with handheld ground stations, adventurers like Arved Fuchs on his sailing trip around the North Pole or the Weber-Malakhov Expedition to the North Pole used the communication with TUBSAT-A extensively. The Alfred-Wegner-Institut used TUBSAT-A to recover data from unmanned gauging stations in the Antarctica and to transmit the data the the headquarter in Bremerhaven, Germany.


Store & Forward Communication (animal tracking, arctic expeditions)
Technology Demonstration (VHF communication, star sensor, GaAs solar cells)
July 17, 1991 (Ariane 4), Last contact spring 2007
Sun-synchronous, altitude 780km, inclination 98.4deg
35kg, 38cmx38cmx38cm
Framework of aluminum bars with aluminum plates constituting the hull
Thermal Control
10 NiCd battery cells, 7Ah, 12V

4 silicon solar panels (6 parallel strings of 36 cells, max. 17W)
VHF (143.075MHz, FFSK, 1200baud, 2W)
Attitude Control
3-axis magnetic field sensor, 3-axis magnetorquer, sun sensor, star sensor
Store & Forward Communication
Radiation exposure experiments (transputer measuring SEU)
Long time GaAs solar cell tests


Small Satellites: Past, Present, and Future

TUBSAT: The Technical University of Berlin Satellite Program

Matthias Buhl

The Aerospace Press, AIAA, Helvajian & Janson (Editors), 2008 (ISBN: 978-1-884989-22-3)

TUBSAT: Low cost access to space technology

U. Renner, B. Luebke-Ossenbeck, P. Butz

CNES, Small Satellites Systems and Services p 601-610 (SEE N94-17131 03-18), 01/1993

Orbit Determination of the Micro-satellite TUBSAT-A

M. Schmidt

Zeitschrift für Flugwissenschaften und Weltraumforschung (ISSN 0342-068X), vol. 16, no. 6, p. 375-382, 12/1992

TUBSAT-A, ein Experimentalsatelit der TU Berlin

U. Renner

Zeitschrift für Flugwissenschaften und Weltraumforschung, vol. 15, p. 349-357, 1991

Flight Results of TUBSAT-A

U. Renner

42nd Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, Oct 5-11, 1991, Montreal, Canada

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