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Friday, Jan. 21, 2011

Kyutech opens testing facility for ultrasmall satellites in Fukuoka

KITAKYUSHU (Kyodo) Kyushu Institute of Technology has opened what it is claiming as the world's only laboratory dedicated to testing the capability of ultrasmall satellites.

The Center for Nanosatellite Testing, opened Tuesday at the state-run university's campus in Kitakyushu, conducts performance tests on ultrasmall satellites — most of them cubes weighing 50 kg and measuring 50 cm or less on a side.

Officials at the university, also known as Kyutech, said ultrasmall satellites cost ¥100 million to ¥200 million ($1.2 million to $2.4 million) each and are used mainly to record ground images.

Businesses have been actively developing ultrasmall satellites as the size of electronic components continues to shrink, and now need laboratories that can test them for vibration and impact, they said.

Kyutech President Morio Matsunaga said before the opening ceremony that the new facility is hoping to carve out a role for ultrasmall satellites in the space industry.

"We are ready to receive orders from across the globe," Matsunaga said.

Officials at the institute said construction of the facility was completed last July and all equipment and instruments were installed by the end of the year.

Kyutech expects the facility to test five ultrasmall satellites a year and to be independent from the school in the future, they said.

Kyutech has 6,063 students, including 1,700 graduate students.



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