Deutsch Intern
    Computer Science VIII - Aerospace Information Technology


    One year in orbit

    The smallsat SONATE of the university Würzburg has been in space for one year - and achivied extraordinary.


    Status 03.06.2020

    Software updates have been uploaded and installed to improve the telecommand capabilities of the satellite.

    Status 29.04.2020

    Tests of the Attitude Control and Determination System (ADCS) were carried out and previously recorded attitude data was evaluated.

    SONATE 3D model of the satellite orientation during the pass over Würzburg on February 28th, 2020. Displayed using the live telemetry data transmitted by the satellite.

    Status 14.04.2020

    A number of attitude determination tests using the AROS star sensors have been sucessfully carried out. The animation (10x speed) shows a typical course of stars recognized by the sensor.

    Status 09.03.2020

    Part of the first image of earth taken by a satellite of the university of Würzburg.

    The image was captured on 28.02.2020. This highly compressed section of the complete image was transmitted via the own analogue SSTV Transmitter using amateur radio frequencies. This picture also contains the satellite call sign. The transmission of the original image in full resolution will take place at a later time.

    Status 11.02.2020

    Through a sequence of experiments both AROS star sensors were sucessfully tested. All three reaction wheels were also further examined. All three reaction wheels are fully functional and will be subject to more experiments during the next few days.

    One of the pictures taken by the AROS star sensor (slighly enhanced)

    Status 23.01.2020

    After a successful update of parts of the satellite, telemetry data of several days was recently downloaded. Further tests of the ADCS system are planned shortly.

    Trend of the temperatures of the on-board processor and the power board as well as the charge currents of a solar panel over 11 orbits on January 11, 2020.

    Status 11.12.2019

    Since the last update several additional satellite components (among others ASPA, SSTV1, SSTV2 as well as AROS1 and AROS2) were put into operation and tested.

    Status 16.09.2019

    Since launch we have received more than 5000 telemetry frames from SONATE. At the moment the satellite is being commanded regularly in order to test the satellite's components. Recently one reaction wheel was successfully tested and measurements including rotation-speeds as well as further diagnostics telemetry of the attitude control system were received.

    SONATE was successfully launched on July 05 2019 from Vostochny Cosmodrome as secondary payload of a Soyuz-rocket. The satellite broadcasts telemetry data on amateur radio frequencies according to this format: SONATE telemetry format

    The team behind SONATE with Prof. Dr. Hakan Kayal (fourth from the left), University president Prof. Dr. Alfred Forchel (center) and projekt leader Oleksii Balagurin (fifth from the right). (Picture: Kristian Lozina / Universität Würzburg)

    SONATE is a nanosatellite engineered as a 3U-Cubesat.  After launch SONATE is operated by SONATE Mission Control Centre of the professorship for space technology assisted with two ground stations owned by chair 8 at Campus Nord of Würzburg University.

    Primary Goals:

    Verification of the main/key elements of the two autonomous payloads:

    • ASAP-L – an autonomous sensor- and planning system
    • ADIA-L – an autonomous diagnosis system

    in earth orbit.

    Secondary Goals:

    • Training and education of students in development, building and operation of satellites
    • Testing of components of the satellite bus particularly components of the position control system
    • Detection and observation of transient illuminous phenomenons in earth atmosphere and nearearth space
    • Transmission of pictures to radio amateurs all over the earth by the SSTV method

    SONATE Mission control (Picture: Kayal)

    SONATE UHF/VHF and S-Band ground stations (Picture: Kayal)

    SONATE Satellite and On-Board controller (Picture: Kayal)

    SONATE Integration laboratory and cleanroom (Foto: Kayal)

    SONATE Testing facilities: Shaker (left) and thermal-vaccum chamber (right) (Picture: Kayal)

    SONATE Air-bearing table and Magnetic field simulator(Picture: Kayal)


    The project is managed by the Space Agency of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) under grant number 50RM1606 and funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi).

    Press Releases


    • Tobias Schwarz, Oleksii Balagurin, Tom Baumann, Gerhard Fellinger, Hakan Kayal, Thomas Rapp, Harald Wojtkowiak, "SONATE – 3U Nano Satellite Mission for Highly Autonomous Payloads“, 4S Symposium, Sorrento, Italy, 2018
    • O. Balagurin, K. Djebko, G. Fellinger, H. Kayal, A. Schartel, A. Schneider, T. Schwarz, A. Vodopivec und H. Wojtkowiak, „A concept for a nanosatellite mission to demonstrate autonomous system technologies,“ in 11th IAA Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation, Berlin, 2017.
    • K. Djebko, T. Schwarz, G. Fellinger, H. Kayal, F. Puppe, A. Schartel, A. Vodopivec und H. Wojtkowiak, „A model-based fault detection and root cause identification system for increased autonomy of small satellites,“ in 11th IAA Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation, Berlin, 2017.
    • H. Kayal, O. Balagurin, K. Djebko, G. Fellinger, F. Puppe, A. Schartel, T. Schwarz, A. Vodopivec und H. Wojtkowiak, „SONATE - A Nano Satellite for the In-Orbit Verification of Autonomous Detection, Planning and Diagnosis Technologies,“ in AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition , Long Beach, CA, 2016.
    • O. Balagurin, G. Fellinger, H. Kayal, T. Schwarz und H. Wojtkowiak, „A Novel Nano Satellite Mission to Demonstrate Autonomous System Technologies,“ in Small Satellites, System & Services Symposium (4S), Valetta, Malta, 2016.
    • T. Schwarz, O. Balaruin, K. Djebko, G. Fellinger, H. Kayal, F. Puppe, A. Schartel, A. Vodopivec und H. Wojtkowiak, „SONATE Nanosatelliten-Mission zur Erprobung von hochautonomen Nutzlasten,“ in Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress, Braunschweig, 2016.

    The beginning of the project: 01/02/2016
    Duration: 4 years


    Oleksii Balagurin (Projektleiter)

    Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hakan Kayal


    last updated: 12.12.2019