A Russian booster rocket successfully carried a student-designed satellite into low Earth orbit Thursday for the European Space Agency under a program intended to help inspire and train Europe's future aerospace workers.
The washing machine-sized SSETI Express spacecraft took off from the Plesetsk launch site in northern Russia at 10:52 a.m. (0652 GMT) atop a Kosmos 3M launcher and reached orbit minutes later. A tracking station in Aalborg, Denmark, picked up its signal less than two hours later, the space agency said in a statement.
The satellite deployed three so-called picosatellites, tiny craft weight about one kilogram (two pounds) each. SSETI Express will also test a cold-gas system for maintaining spacecraft position and take pictures of the earth.
It was built by student engineering and aerospace teams in 23 university groups, with more than 400 students contributing to the project as part of degree work or in their spare time, reports the AP.