Toulouse, France, 04 December 2023 – Expleo today announces the successful launch of its first nanosatellite, ENSO, developed in partnership with the Centre Spatial Universitaire de Montpellier (CSUM).
ENSO (Expleo Nanosat for Solar irradiance Observation) successfully launched on 1 December from California aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, mission 425, flight 1, via ISISpace with first signal received shortly after 21:00 UTC. It will now begin its 4 years-long mission to monitor solar activity and its impact on Earth’s atmosphere.
ENSO is an in-house CubeSat project jointly developed by teams from Expleo and CSUM. It measures just 10x10x10cm and weighs just over 1kg– small enough to hold in your hands. It also incorporates a six-metre antenna, which deploys after launch, and a camera system to support secondary data collection missions.
Once ENSO’s antenna is deployed, it will officially begin its primary mission using a high-frequency beacon to support measurement of the ionosphere, a highly active part of Earth’s upper atmosphere used to support radio and satellite communications. Data from ENSO will be sent to SANSA ground stations located in Antarctica, with the data used to improve our understanding of the impact of solar activity on our atmosphere.
ENSO combines Expleo expertise across systems engineering, electronics and software space engineering, quality and assembly, integration and test (AIT), supported by CSUM’s knowledge and experience of nanosatellite launches. ENSO has been tested on the CSUM shaker and thermal vacuum chamber – resources specially adapted for environmental testing of nanosatellites.
Jeff Hoyle, EVP – Global Aero, Space and Defence of Expleo, said: “Nanosatellites are the embodiment of the NewSpace revolution – a cost-effective yet powerful way of putting the power of space exploration and monitoring into the hands of a far wider audience than ever before. Industries as wide-ranging as aerospace, automotive and energy & utilities all stand to benefit from their potential. With the launch of ENSO, we’ve built a team and perfected the skills needed for the successful development, integration and deployment of nanosatellite payloads.”
“This is a huge milestone for us, but we’re already looking forward to building on this success and developing the skills to support nanosatellite launches and NewSpace activities for our partners, through R&D initiatives such as ExpleoLissa, a software-defined nanosatellite capable of in-orbit reconfiguration.”
ENSO’s mission will last up to four years before starting its end-of-life process, expected in 2027.