The Successful Launch of “BIT-1”

At 1:00 p.m. on July 25, 2019, “BIT-1” was successfully launched at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China by the Star Glory’s SQX-1 Y1 rocket and entered the Earth orbit 300 kilometers above the ground. One and a half hours later, the satellite successfully returned the signal, which marks the successful launch of the first satellite developed by BIT. Since then, there has been a scientific satellite of BIT in the vast universe.

BIT-1, code-named BP-1B, was developed jointly by BIT and Lanzhou Institute of Physics, CAST. As the first satellite of the new technology verification series, BIT-1 has a diameter of 500mm, a mass of 3kg, a launch orbit height of 300km and an inclination angle of 42.7 degrees (consistent with the orbit inclination of manned spacecraft).

Zhang Jun, Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering & the President of BIT as well as Long Teng, the Vice-president of BIT watched the launch of satellite at Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC)

As a scientific and technological verification microsatellite, the orbital life of BIT-1 is about 7 to 10 days under the action of rarefied atmosphere. In this mission, it will complete two innovative scientific research and verification tasks, namely spinnaker technology and new space radio technology.

On-orbit flight rendering of BIT-1 with spinnaker unfolded

It is worth mentioning that this is the first time for China to use and verify space spinnaker technology in space launch missions. Spinnaker technology and flexible light spacecraft technology based on spinnaker are to store flexible materials in the satellite cabin by folding. When the satellite is in orbit normally, it releases flexible materials and expands into spherical shape. The volume of spherical structure is several times larger than that of satellite, which is like launching a “spinnaker” for the satellite.

Spinnaker deployed in space can be used as solar panels for satellites and large antennas for satellite communications in the future. Compared with the solar panels and antennas of traditional satellites, spinnaker technology has the advantages of light weight and small size, and will effectively reduce the quality of spacecraft battery array, which is the future trend of satellite technology development.

The concept of the “spinnaker” was first proposed by BIT, which has been conducting deep space exploration research for a long time, and has carried out a lot of design and analysis work. At the same time, it actively explores the design combined with other flexible technologies. Finally, the spinnaker is developed by BIT and Lanzhou Institute of Physics, CAST. BIT and its partners have made breakthroughs in spinnaker technology and space applications such as flexible film sphere deployment technology, flexible battery technology, flexible cable technology, which will be verified in this launch mission.

In addition, BIT-1 will also verify the solar pressure reflection characteristics of the aluminized and non-aluminized surfaces of spinnaker for low-orbit space debris mitigation research and atmospheric density model inversion, etc. As project partners, the National Astronomical Observatories, CAS and the Beijing Planetarium will carry out space debris mitigation research and astronomical satellite photography activities.

The new space radio station on the BIT-1 will also provide satellite beacon and communication platform for amateur radio enthusiasts all over the world. The radio frequency is UV band, up 145MHz, down 435MHz. College students including the ones from BIT will participate in the practice of radio communication after the launch.

The success of the development and launch of BIT-1 can not do without the Institute of Deep Space Exploration Technology, BIT (hereinafter referred to as IDSET), which is an excellent team that has been plowing deeply in the field of deep space exploration in China all the year round. Established in 2009, it has the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Key Laboratory of “Deep Space Autonomous Navigation and Control”, whose research fields include deep space exploration autonomous mission planning technology, deep space exploration autonomous navigation and control technology, deep space exploration orbit design and optimization technology, deep space exploration distributed simulation and demonstration verification technology.

IDSET participated in major deep space exploration projects such as lunar, Mars and asteroid exploration in China It undertakes national 973, 863, National Natural Science Foundation of China, civil space pre-research and basic national defense research, and is responsible for organizing research work of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) on “Small Object Defense Strategies and Feasibility Analysis”.

Under the background of “Double-First Class” initiative, IDSET is also in a period of rapid development. It has won the second prize of national scientific and technological progress and a number of provincial and ministerial awards. It has the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Key Laboratory of “Deep Space Autonomous Navigation and Control”, the joint Laboratory of “Asteroid Detection Technology”, and the Laboratory of “Small Celestial Body Detection and Defense”. On the basis of successful on-orbit flight verification of small satellite autonomous management technology, the first task of “small satellite carrying probe asteroid” is being actively promoted.

Under the background of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 80th anniversary of the founding of BIT, the successful launch of BIT-1, the first satellite of BIT, means the great technological achievement in ground weapons, information engineering and aerospace engineering, which embodies the inheritance of the red gene by the teachers and students of BIT, the adherence to the major strategic needs of the country, the aims to explore the forefront of the world’s science and technology, the confidence to cooperate and tackle difficulties, the excellence to strive, and the peak to climb bravely.