THE FIRST GUATEMALAN SATELLITE
IS A STUDENT PROJECT OF THE ENGINEERING SCHOOL AND THE RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF UVG
What is a CubeSat? CubeSats are nanosatellites programmed to developed a specific mission. They have been developed for several years, some as student projects to learn the process that entails the development of aerospace technology.
What is the mission of the first CubeSat that we are developing in UVG? To design, develop, and operate a CubeSat-class satellite to test a multispectral sensor prototype, opening the field of space science & technology in Guatemala, developing the country’s human capital, and enabling the independent acquisition of remote sensing data for natural resource management.
Who participate in the project? Students, professors, engineers and alumni from Mechanical, Mechatronics, Electronics and Computer Science Departments of Universidad del Valle de Guatemala with the support of local and international advisors.
Why a CubeSat? Because it is a way to demonstrate that Guatemalans have the capability to develop technology for the benefit of the country and the scientific community in general.
Phase 1 (2014)
- The project began
- First design was made
- A study to define the mission was completed
- Results of this phase were presented in the 1st Latin America CubeSat Workshop in Brazil
Phase 2 (2014 – 2015)
- First iteration of the design was made
- A camera for remote sensing was included
- First prototype was built
Phase 3 (2015 – 2016)
- First revision by international experts
- Based on experts feedback the design was modified
- In Oct-16, the project was announced in a press conference
- Seguros Universales S.A. became the first sponsor
Phase 4 (2016 – 2017)
- UVG was the venue for the first celebration of the World Space Week in Guatemala
- The project was selected as the winner of the second round of the KiboCube Programme of UNOOSA and JAXA
Phase 5 (2017 – 2018)
- In this phase, construction of the satellite started.
- With Prensa Libre, competitions “Name the first Guatemalan satellite” and “Design the logo of the misión of the first Guatemalan satellite” were carried out. Quetzal-1 was selected as the name of the satellite, name proposed by José Miguel Ortega Yung. Carlos Lorenzana, José Salguero and Johany Cumes were the winners of the second competition.
Phase 6 (2018 – 2019)
- Quetzal-1 was finished. Thermo-vacuum and vibration tests were done in laboratories in Edinburgh, Scotland, with support of UK Space Agency and ASTROSAT.
- The CubeSat was handed-over to JAXA in December 2019 It will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) in March 2020.
- Prensa Libre selected the CubeSat team as the Guatemalan person of the year in December 2019.
Design of the first Guatemalan satellite, Quetzal-1
The satellite design has been released by the Quetzal-1 team, including the software and hardware for the Electrical Power System (EPS) and the Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS). It also includes the electronic design of the Antenna Deployment Mechanism (ADM), as well as a database with satellite telemetry (more than 80,000 data packets throughout its 211 days of operation) and the photographs that were taken and downloaded from space. Finally, a repository that describes the operation of the Ground Control Station (GCS), assembled at UVG and used in 2020 to operate the satellite.
To access the released information, you can visit the following links:
- Repository home page: https://github.com/Quetzal-1-CubeSat-Team
- Electronic design of the satellite: https://github.com/Quetzal-1-CubeSat-Team/quetzal1-hardware
- Satellite software: https://github.com/Quetzal-1-CubeSat-Team/quetzal1-flight-software
- Ground control station software: https://github.com/danalvarez/gr-quetzal1
- Telemetry and photographs taken by the satellite: https://github.com/Quetzal-1-CubeSat-Team/quetzal1-telemetry
Crédito de la fotografía: Iván Castro
In December 2019, Quetzal-1 was handed over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). On March 6, 2020, at 22:49 (GMT-6) the SpaceX rocket Falcon 9 was launched from Cabo Cañaveral, carrying the Dragon Capsule that transported Quetzal-1 to the International Space Station (ISS). It can be seen here.
Quetzal-1 was deployed from the Kibo module of the International Space Station on April 28, 2020 at 09:20 hours (GMT-6). At 12:10, the same day, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala’s station received and decoded for the first time its beacon.
After de 211 days of operation in the space, Quetzal-1 finished its mission. During this time, it sent successfully 84,775 packages of data that will be useful to build future satellites in Guatemala and the region.
Its operation validated the modules of power, orientation, antenna deployment mechanism, structure, command, and data handling, and also permitted to test the optical sensor for its scientific mission.
To see Quetzal-1 telemetry, go to this page.
For downlink, Quetzal-1 used a GOMSpace AX100 transceiver, which transmits GMSK-modulated data at 4800 bps at 437.200 MHz (as coordinated by IARU).
The spacecraft’s beacon was sent with a 10 second period. This GitHub repository details both the HDLC + AX.25 structure and the beacon data format. TLEs can be found under Quetzal-1 code: NORAD ID 45598.
Crédito de la imagen: JAXA
Photographs taken by Quetzal-1
The second half of Quetzal-1’s life in orbit was spent testing its camera, motor and light filter carousel Payload. The process was slow due to scarce passes over Guatemala at times in which the camera could adapt automatically to light conditions. However, the team overcame these challenges by taking pictures during sunrises or sunsets. On November 17th, 2020, they captured and downloaded the first visible images from a Central American satellite, taken at a moment when the satellite was entering dusk and Hurricane Iota was over Guatemala.
The first two visible images sent by a Central American satellite, on November 17th, 2020. Credit: UVG
The book «ESPERANZA DESDE EL CIELO, LA HISTORIA DEL PRIMER SATÉLITE GUATEMALTECO» tells the anecdotes, challenges and experiences of the team that built the CubeSat Quetzal-1 as well as the results of this project. An inspiring story in which teamwork, perseverance, dedication and effort are combined to achieve a goal, leaving a historical lesson and a message of hope for new generations who wish a promising future. Available in Spanish. To buy it, create a user in the virtual store of the Editorial Universitaria UVG in this link, and then select opciones de compra.
- Aguilar-Nadalini, A., Chung, K., Marsicovetere, C., Bagur, J., Medrano, J., Miranda, E., Ayerdi, V., Zea, L. Design and On-Orbit Performance of the Electrical Power System for the Quetzal-1 CubeSat. 2022. (In review).
- Alvarez, D., Aguilar-Nadalini, A., Bagur, J., Ayerdi, V., Zea, L. Design and On-Orbit Performance of the Attitude Determination and Passive Control System for the Quetzal-1 CubeSat. 2022. (In review).
- Birnie, J., Herrarte, R., Martínez, M., Ayerdi, V., Zea, L. Novel Approach for Structural Finite Element Analysis on CubeSat’s Bolted Joints. 2022. (In review).
- Miranda, E., Kuk, C., Ayerdi, V., Zea, L. (2020). Quetzal-1 CubeSat’s Command and Data Handling – Design and Development Considerations. 4th IAA Latin American CubeSat Workshop (LACW) Virtual Conference, Aug 3 – 6, 2020.
- Martínez, M., González, D., Rodríguez, D., Birnie, J., Bagur, J.A., Paz, R., Miranda, E., Solórzano, F., Esquit, C., Gallegos, J., Álvarez, E., Ayerdi, V.H., Zea, L. (2018). Guatemala’s Remote Sensing CubeSat – Tools and Approaches to Increase the Probability of Mission Success, 32nd Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, Logan, Utah, August 4-10, 2018.
- Ayerdi, V. (2018). Introducing Space Technology and Aerospace Engineering in Guatemala. United Nations Expert Meeting on Human Space Technology. Vienna, December 4-6, 2018.
- Zea, L., Chaves, A., Ayerdi, V., Carvajal, J. (2018). A Multinational CubeSat for Forest Monitoring, UNOOSA / Brazil Symposium on Basic Space Technology. Natal, September 11-14, 2018.
- Gómez, M., García, B., Chaves, A., García, D., Carvajal-Godínez,J., Lara,J., Zea, L. (2017). Mechanism of Cooperation for the Development of a Central American Space Project- A Regional CubeSat, 30th IAA Symposium on Space Policy, Regulations and Economics. UNOOSA, September 26, 2017.
- Zea, L., Ayerdi, V., Argueta. S., Muñoz, A. A Methodology for CubeSat Mission Selection”, Journal of Small Satellites, Vol. 5, No. 3 October 2016
- Molina, J.C., Ayerdi, V., Zea, L. (2016). Attitude Control Model for CubeSats, 2nd Latin American CubeSat Workshop, Florianopolis, Brasil, Febrero 28 – Marzo 2, 2016.
- Zea, L., Microbiological Experiments Onboard CubeSats A Review and Prospects, IAA-BR-14-13-03, 1st Latin American IAA CubeSat Workshop, Brasilia, Brasil, Diciembre 8-11, 2014
- Miranda, E., Flores, J., Molina, J.C., Perez, J., Ayerdi, V., Zea, L., Design and Development of Guatemala’s first CubeSat, IAA-BR-14-05-06, 1st Latin American IAA CubeSat Workshop, Brasilia, Brasil, Diciembre 8-11, 2014
- Zea, L., Ayerdi, V., Argueta, S., Muñoz, A., CubeSat Applications and their Potential Benefits, IAA-BR-14-03-02, 1st Latin American IAA CubeSat Workshop, Brasilia, Brasil, Diciembre 8-11, 2014
GUATE VA AL ESPACIO
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Personaje del Año2019: Equipo que desarrolla el primer satélite guatemalteco
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Universidad del Valle de Guatemala entrega el primer satélite guatemalteco a Japón
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Preparan baterías para Quetzal-1
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Exposición fotográfica muestra el desarrollo de Quetzal-1, el primer satélite guatemalteco
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Cómo funciona la estación en Tierra en UVG
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Estas son las carreras para desarrollar el CubeSat
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Cómo funciona el cerebro de Quetzal-1
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Así va el desarrollo del primer satélite del país
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Un año de sueños y retos superados
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Estas organizaciones apoyan desarrollo de Quetzal-1
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Este es el proceso de registro de Quetzal-1
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Expertos japoneses visitan a Quetzal-1
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Ellos son los más jóvenes que construyen Quetzal-1
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Eligen emblema del primer satélite guatemalteco Quetzal-1 en concurso de diseño
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Quetzal-1 regresó de sus primeras pruebas nacional
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | El CanSat impulsó la creación de primer satélite nacional
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Estos guatemaltecos investigan el espacio
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Resumen del trabajo realizado en seis meses
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Conozca dónde se construye Quetzal 1
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Conozca a los catedráticos dedicados al proyecto
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Cómo nos beneficia la ciencia espacial
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Cuáles son las órbitas satelitales
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Conozca qué es y cómo se fabrica la estructura del CubeSat
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Cómo se comunicará el CubeSat
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Todo lo que debe saber sobre la EEI
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | ¿Cuántas piezas contiene el satélite guatemalteco?
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Póngale nombre al primer satélite del país
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Ellas construyen el satélite guatemalteco
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Así será la misión del primer satélite chapín
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | ¿Para qué se usan los satélites pequeños similares al que enviará Guatemala?
Prensa Libre – CubeSat Guatemala | Comienza cuenta regresiva para el lanzamiento del primer satélite de Guatemala