Newsletter 2021

Newsletter 2021

For the second year in a row, the coronavirus pandemic has determined almost the entire life of our society, but it was necessary to learn how to deal with it to continue to be successful.

While BUBBLE 2 was able to launch successfully in June, ROACH 2 and the fourth CanSat challenge have suffered severe setbacks and are still waiting for a launch opportunity. SOURCE continues unhindered on its way towards orbit for 2023 and is now under construction. Unfortunately, MICU was only short-lived, but FerrAS was able to create a little brother FARGO and will possibly launch in a double version: on a REXUS rocket in the 14th cycle, and it will be  installed on the ISS as successor to PAPELL. A new CanSat challenge has also been launched. The outreach of our association is growing, and our membership numbers are rising rapidly, which is also reflected in our manpower.

Read the full Newsletter here:

If you would like to make a present for Christmas to our society, we would be very grateful for a donation and would like to refer you to our PayPal or bank account.

Depositor KSat e.V.
IBAN: DE44 6009 0100 0406 8300 02

A donation receipt can, of course, be issued upon request.
Enjoy reading, and we wish you a delightful Christmas season.

Natascha Bonidis, Maximilian Schneider and Mario Spahr
KSat e.V. Board

SOURCE Completes Critical Design Review

SOURCE Completes Critical Design Review

At the end of July 2021, the Review Board of the Fly Your Satellite! Program of the ESA Education Office confirmed the quality and completeness of our satellite design for our SOURCE project. With this, we are now formally ready for the integration phase.

The Critical Design Review (CDR) is one of the most important milestones in any spaceflight project. It concludes project phase C, in which the final design of the satellite is established.

Due to a necessary design change at the beginning of the year, the CDR could not be immediately closed and the review board decided to perform a delta review. This has now been completed. With this, SOURCE has officially entered phase D1, in which all satellite hardware will be built, tested and assembled to a complete spacecraft.

The next milestone is the Manufacturing Readiness Review, currently scheduled for spring 2022. Until then, all components of the satellite need to be tested as prototypes and ready for the construction of the flight models.

The SOURCE team would like to thank all reviewers for their commitment and the time spent to complete the review and the extensive feedback received in multiple iterations and many meetings.

The SOURCE project is carried out with the support of the Education Office of the European Space Agency ESA in the “Fly your Satellite!” program.

BUBBLE 2 successfully launched!

BUBBLE 2 successfully launched!

On June 17, 2021, the long-awaited day had come, BUBBLE 2 could finally launch after a year’s delay due to Corona!

30°C outside temperature in Stuttgart and the team gathered, with negative Corona tests, at the university in Vaihingen to do the last preparations for the balloon launch. Changing batteries, preparing the ropes, gondola and parachute and to finish setting up the ground station. In the process, the software from the mobile ground stations still had to be set up on enough laptops so that tracking of the balloon was possible in each of the three tracking cars. 

Around 12:30 the preparations were finished, all things were packed and the gondola and the helium were brought to the launch site. There the team set up a pavilion for some protection from the sun and started to assemble the gondola and check all the functions. At the same time, the balloon was filled.  Shortly before 4 pm everything was ready and BUBBLE 2 was launched.

A flight time of roughly 3 hours was calculated with an approximate landing site north of Bretten. On a windless day the balloon does not fly too far away, which makes the chase more comfortable, so there was enough time for cleaning up, filling the water bottles and eating an ice cream before setting out. Using the tracking systems integrated in the gondola, the position of BUBBLE 2 could now be pinpointed and the flight route followed. Both the mobile and stationary ground stations were able to receive good data. At an altitude of almost 36km, the balloon burst and the gondola fell in free fall until the parachute was able to brake in the denser atmosphere. BUBBLE 2 glided gently to the ground at 5 m/s for the last few kilometers. The cars drove to the approximate landing site from different directions to increase the chance of recovering the gondola quickly. This is important if, for example, there is a river nearby to be able to rescue the systems in time.

All three chase cars had gathered near the expected landing site shortly before the landing and one of them could even watch the gondola descending. It was an unspectacular landing in the field, far away from roads and towns and during recovery no damage to the gondola or electronics could be detected. So it was a successful flight.

The entire flight was filmed by our GoPro, provides stunning footage and can be viewed in full on Youtube.

The data evaluation now also brings BUBBLE 3 a lot further, as we now know which of our systems worked well and where there are still weak points. Our goal to develop a plug-and-play system for high-altitude balloons, has come a lot closer this day!

BUBBLE 2 successfully performed its system test – ready for launch!

BUBBLE 2 successfully performed its system test – ready for launch!

As temperatures are rising, and winter winds are finally gone, BUBBLE 2 has successfully performed its system test – a critical milestone in the launch preparations. During the 2.5 hour long test run, every functionality such as a strong radio down link connection, battery performance and reliable data recording was tested, and no issues were found. Additionally, the team took the opportunity to work on final launch preparations. A final launch date is yet to be chosen and will be selected quite spontaneous as the launch is dependent on good weather and a promising flight track prediction – however, the team is looking for a launch in June 2021.

BUBBLE is the very own high-altitude program and balloon of the Small Satellite Student Society of the University of Stuttgart. BUBBLE 2 is, similar to the flight of BUBBLE 1, equipped with a sky brightness sensor which is an experiment performed in cooperation with the Institute of Space Systems at the University of Stuttgart. The high altitude balloon will lift a 2 kg gondola carrying the experiment to a maximum altitude of approximately 35,000 m where the balloon will burst and the gondola starts to descend safely on a parachute. The BUBBLE team on the ground will receive radio transmissions from the balloon to localize and recover the gondola after landing.

BUBBLE Team Practices Tracking & Recovery

BUBBLE Team Practices Tracking & Recovery

The BUBBLE team practised for their upcoming launch today by helping to track and recover another private high altitude balloon. The payload was a camera, along with a few personal items. After a launch near the University of Stuttgart and a 2 hour flight with a maximum altitude of 34.8 km, the balloon landed in a forest and got stuck in a tree. With some patience and a 15m long telescopic stick they were able to successfully recover the balloon and its payload. Participating in this kind of operation gives the team a chance to practice for their own launches, and helps to ensure a smooth tracking and recovery later.

KSat wins NASA-Challenge

KSat wins NASA-Challenge

KSat Stuttgart e.V. has successfully participated with its sensor MICU (Mineral Investigation Camera using Ultra-violet) in the NASA competition “Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload”. The competitions task was to propose payloads for a future moon rover of NASA. The proposals were evaluated in several categories and a total of 14 prizes were awarded.

With our proposal KSat reached second place in the category “Lunar Resource Potential” and won a prize money of 15.000$.


Annual General Meeting Held Online for the First Time

Annual General Meeting Held Online for the First Time

For the first time, the annual general meeting of KSat has taken place online. All positions provisionally introduced in 2019 were filled and for the third time the Small Satellite Society elects a chairwoman.

After a semester without on-site classes, an annual general meeting without physical presence is no longer a huge adjustment – and a significant help when a large number of members have just given up or at least temporarily left their homes near the campus and are living at their old home addresses again. The meeting formally exonerated the previous chairpersons Franziska Hild and Robin Schweigert as well as financial chairman Adrian Causevic without any dissenting votes. The association continues to grow and was able to raise more donations in 2020 than ever before. The projects ROACH2 and BUBBLE2 are nearing completion, provided that the start is possible again in the near future. The small satellite SOURCE was accepted into the “Fly Your Satellite!” programme of the ESA Education Office in 2020, bringing it a big step closer to reaching space. Starting in the winter semester, the “School for Talents” at the University of Stuttgart will also be supporting SOURCE over a period of two years.

The association’s submission to NASA’s “Honey I shrunk the NASA Payload!” competition “MICU”, Mineral Investigation Camera using Ultra-violet, won second place in the category “Lunar Resource Evaluation”, and was awarded 15,000 USD for its further development.

Last year, it was also possible to expand the exchange with space groups from German-speaking countries and continue it online during the summer semester, despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Finally, all posts were filled again. Taking the position of first chairperson is Natascha Bonidis, her deputy is Paul Nehlich. The new financial chairman Mario Spahr completes the new board. The offices for public relations, data protection, club exchange, IT and room administration were also newly occupied. With this ,KSat is looking forward to another successful year.

Internal Critical Design Review of the SOURCE Project

Internal Critical Design Review of the SOURCE Project

On 8th June 2020, the internal Critical Design Review (CDR) of SOURCE took place. Unlike usual, it was not held on site at the Institute of Space Systems at the University of Stuttgart (IRS), but via online presentation.

The aim of the day was to complete project phase C, during which the final design of the satellite was established. In addition to a project milestone for SOURCE, the review represented a study achievement at the end of the semester for all participants in the key qualification offered. The date of the review was delayed due to the corona regulations and the impact on the University of Stuttgart.

In addition to the reviewers who came from OHB and Airbus as well as from DLR Bremen, TU Berlin, DHBW Ravensburg, OBSPM (Observatiore de Paris) and Baylor University, the SOURCE team also welcomed numerous guests, including the ESA Education Office and students from the other Fly YourSatellite! participants.

The review started with the presentation of all subsystems and further information from the system engineers and the team management. Within about two hours, the current status of work on the entire satellite system was presented. In the afternoon, reviewers had time to ask questions and discuss the presentation.

In the end, the review board members voted to issue a conditional pass as a result. A detailed, written report will be compiled soon.

It is now necessary to close all RIDs (review item discrepancies, ambiguities or errors in concept, plan or documentation) up to the beginning of the CDR in the Fly Your Satellite! programme in order to pass it as directly as possible. Since SOURCE has been running for two years now, but has only been part of the Fly Your Satellite! programme of the ESA Education Office since February 2020, this internal review took place ahead of the CDR in the Fly Your Satellite! programme, which will follow in September.

The SOURCE team thanks all guests and especially the reviewers for the interest and commitment with which they made the CDR of SOURCE possible.

The SOURCE project is carried out with the support of the Education Office of the European Space Agency, under the educational Fly Your Satellite! Programme.

Further information

  • KSat Stuttgart –
  • Intitute of Space Systems –
  • Fly Your Satellite! –

Corona and the impact on KSat projects

Corona and the impact on KSat projects

The corona virus currently leads to massive restrictions in public life in Germany and Europe. The University of Stuttgart will close down almost completely until 20 April 2020, which will delay some of our projects, which we summarize below.

This article will be updated if there are further changes.

Update 2020-03-19: Currently all meetings of clubs are prohibited in Germany. We are taking the opportunity to expand our server infrastructure with voice chat and other teleworking services.


Our rover mission was to be launched in March on board a REXUS rocket. The launch was postponed indefinitely in order to ensure satellite operation at the launch pad and as no medical care could be provided locally. REXUS/BEXUS and the organisers DLR and SNSA are looking for an alternative date.


Our CubeSat project is currently in phase C. Due to the closure of workshops and laboratories at the university there are some delays in production and tests.

Some work, especially software development and documentation is actually progressing faster now, as team members have much less other obligations. The schedule will not be changed for the time being.

The Critical Design Review was scheduled for April 20. Since this is now announced as the first day of lectures we are looking for a new date – and in case the shut down will be extended a good solution for a remote review.


The second balloon in our BUBBLE balloon series was scheduled to launch in April. As there are no production and launch preparations possible at the moment, the schedule will not be able to be kept. As soon as university operations are resumed, we will look for a new launch date.


Our CanSat-Challenge is running and nearing the end. Since no production and launch preparations are possible at present, the schedule will not be able to be kept. As soon as university operations are resumed, we will look for a new launch date.


Hannover Messe

The fair has been postponed by the organizer to 13 – 17 July 2020.

Yuri’s Night Stuttgart

The Yuri’s Night 2020 was cancelled by the organizer.

Tag der Wissenschaft

The Science Day was cancelled by the organizer.

PiAndMore 12 ½

The PiAndMore 12 ½ has been postponed, a new date has not been fixed yet.

Update 2020-03-24


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