The ROM-3 mission proves to be a success as the second Romanian student-built satellite has reached orbit with Elon Musk’s rocket and is operational. After spending a few days regenerating its energy using solar power, the satellite will begin transmitting according to the mission. Currently, ROM-3 is traveling at a speed of 27,500 km/h, at an altitude of 540 km, orbiting the Earth once every hour and a half.
The Romspace team, responsible for the ROM-3 mission, consists of students Filip Buşcu, David Ghiberdic, Alex Unteşu, Alesia Unteşu, and Alex Peticaru from the International Computer Science High School, and Alex Luchianov, a scholarship student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA.
The Falcon 9 rocket took off from SpaceX’s Vandenberg base on November 11, at 23:35, after three successive flight delays. The capsule containing 35 satellites reached the payload deployment altitude in 9 minutes. At 00:45, it began deploying the satellites in order of size and importance at well-established time intervals and specific mission points.
ROM-3 waited its turn in the deployer for 72 hours at temperatures ranging from plus 40 to minus 80 degrees Celsius. Concerns about the batteries’ ability to withstand a longer period were confirmed when the deployer failed to open on the first attempt.
The Alba Orbital launcher mechanism did not function, and ROM-3 remained stuck inside with the other 34 satellites, according to the source. From that moment, the ground team constantly calculated the battery potential, facing cosmic cold beyond the design limit. The longer the stay in the launcher without the ability to charge the battery through solar panels, the more the satellite risked becoming space debris.
Emotions turned into hundredths and then thousandths of volts, diminishing the chances of success. However, Filip, David, the three Alexs, Alesia, and the entire team placed their hopes in oversized batteries and precise calculations.
“On Monday, November 28, at 11:25, Alba Orbital made a second attempt to open the launcher, and… succeeded. ROM-3 was launched into orbit and is currently operational. It has already transmitted the identification data package. After a few days using solar energy to regenerate, the satellite will begin transmitting according to the mission. Currently, ROM-3 is moving at a speed of 27,500 km/h, at an altitude of 540 km, orbiting the Earth once every hour and a half. It crosses Romania’s territory twice a day. The data transmitted on the frequency 436.235 MHz will be received by the global network of radio amateurs and processed by the Romspace team. ROM-3 (nicknamed Space Starling) has missions for Earth observation, measuring its own parameters, measuring Earth’s magnetism, and the level of cosmic radiation hitting the atmosphere,” the statement reads.
“ROM-3 has successfully faced cosmic cold, overcome the challenging moment in the launcher, and now we have a second satellite in orbit, larger and more advanced than the first. We actually have a small laboratory where we test the technologies for our future space missions,” said Filip, the head of the Romspace team at the International Computer Science High School in Bucharest. “What these kids achieve is remarkable. It gives me hope for the future of this country. Strong, intelligent, innovative, high-performing generations are coming. It is our duty as adults to find ways to keep them in the country or at least bring them back,” says Dragoş Damian, a representative of a company that sponsored the ROM-3 project.