“My work is flying through space”

Did you know that the first Austrian satellite to go into space was built in TU Graz’s labs? TUGSAT-1 has been observing stars for more than six years – and it’s not the only object made in Graz that is hurtling through space.

A man in a white labcoat and a white hat is working on a satellite.

Small, but big enough to be a satellite: OPS-Sat – seen here with Otto Koudelka undergoing final testing in the laboratory in Graz – will begin orbiting the Earth in a few months. © Lunghammer – TU Graz

“The night after the launch I was lying awake in bed and I thought to myself: amazing! This is something that I held in my hands and now it’s flying through space,” recalls Otto Koudelka, sitting at a glass conference table at the Inffeldgasse site in Graz. The star attraction is dangling modestly and inconspicuously in the foyer of the institute. The silver cube, measuring only 20x20x20 centimetres is a precise replica of the first Austrian satellite, the TUGSAT-1 satellite. The nanosatellite was fired into space in 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India as part of the BRITE mission, and is still orbiting the planet. It has already outlived its expected lifespan by four and a half years and is still transmitting reliable data to the ground station in Graz. “Just last year, our joint mission caused a sensation,” Koudelka tells us. “The BRITE satellite constellation was the only satellite mission to record an entire nova.” A nova is a sudden increase in the brightness of a particularly massive star, a process which provides insights into the origins of the universe.

Switch to the Planet research article in the TU Graz News+Stories to learn more about objects made in Graz that are hurtling through space and exciting space missions.