ESA's butane-powered satellite will be able to change its orbit
ESA's next miniature satellite will be its first able to change orbit. Thanks to a compact thruster resembling a butane cigarette lighter, the cereal box-sized satellite will fly around its near-twin to test their radio communications. Ready to be launched with its counterpart from China on 2 February, GomX-4B is built from six standard 10 cm CubeSat units. Much quicker to build and cheaper to launch than traditional satellites, ESA is making use of CubeSats for testing new technologies in space. The main goal is to test the radio link at varying distances, routing data from one satellite to the other, then down to the ground. GomX-4A, from the Danish Ministry of Defence, will remain in position while ESA's GomX-4B manoeuvres up to 4500 km away. Supplied by Swedish firm NanoSpace, the thrusters fitted along one side will allow it to adjust its motion by a total of 15 m/s - a speed equivalent to a kicked football. "We have two pressurised fuel tanks linked to two pairs of thrusters," explains Tor-Arne Gronland, head of NanoSpace.