CSU’s nanosatellite development strategy

A strategy defined by experts at the Van Allen Foundation


In collaboration with the University Space Centre (CSU), the CSU nanosatellite development strategy is defined by the Van Allen Foundation’s Board of Directors, which comprises leading personalities from the CNES (French space agency), the ESA and JPL/NASA.

  • Michel COURTOIS, President of the Van Allen Foundation, Former Director of CNES Toulouse and ESA/ESTEC, Member of the Technologies Academy
  • Jean-Jacques DORDAIN, Former Director of ESA (European Space Agency)
  • Charles ELACHI, Director of JPL/NASA (that sent the Curiosity robot to Mars)
  • Jean-Claude GAYSSOT, President of the Van Allen Foundation Campaign Committee, Former Minister
  • Thierry LEVEUGLE, Président of ThiReX Engineering
  • Franco ONGARO, Director of the ESA/ESTEC (European Space Agency)
  • Marc PIRCHER, Director of CNES Toulouse, Member of the Technologies Academy
  • Michel TOGNINI, French astronaut, Former Director of the ESA Astronauts Centre

Nanosatellites of the University Space Centre

Projects in progress

MEDITERRANEE triple CubeSat

  • Nanosatellite type: triple CubeSat or CubeSat 3Units
  • Co-funded by the Van Allen Foundation and CNES : as part of the CNES Janus project
  • Student internships funded by the Van Allen Foundation
  • Development duration: 6 years: Started in 2013 – Ready for launch in 2019
  • Estimated number of students involved : 300
  • Mission carried out in partnership with Météo France: 
    Three times larger than ROBUSTA, MEDITERRANEE can be directed towards a precise point on earth to collect environmental data that will be transmitted to Météo France for improved forecasting and advance warnings of severe sudden storms.

MT Cube nanosatellite

  • Nanosatellite type: CubeSat 1Unit
  • Co-funded by the Van Allen Foundation and ESA
  • Student internships funded by the Van Allen Foundation 
  • Development duration: 4 years: Started in 2014 – Ready for launch in 2018
  • Estimated number of students involved: 50
  • Mission in partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) :
    to measure the rate of error and its distribution on different types of memory in space

CELESTA nanosatellite

  • Nanosatellite type: CubeSat 1Unit
  • Funded by CERN
  • Projected development duration: 3 years: Started in 2015 – Ready for launch end 2018/early 2019
  • Estimated number of students involved: 50
  • Mission in partnership with CERN :
    to compare radiative environments in low orbit around the Earth (CHARM and LEO environments) using a radiation monitor (RADMON detector) from CERN. The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, also known as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics and commonly called by its French acronym CERN, is the largest particle physics centre in the world. CELESTA is part of the ESA’s FYS programme.

Past projects

Robusta 1B,
2nd nanosatellite in orbit

Launched on 23 June 2017 in India on board a PSLV launcher

  • Nanosatellite type: CubeSat 1Unit
  • Co-funded by the Van Allen Foundation and CNES :as part of the CNES Janus project
  • Student internships funded by the Van Allen Foundation
  • Development duration: 4 years. Started in 2012 – Ready for launch in 2015
  • Estimated number of students involved: 50
  • Mission: to validate a standard test for radiation and a new communications bus

ROBUSTA,
1st French nanosatellite in orbit

ESA “Cubesat on Vega Maiden Flight” launch on 13 February 2012

  • Nanosatellite type: CubeSat 1Unit
  • Co-funded by CNES as part of its Expresso project
  • DDevelopment duration: 6 years: Started in 2006 – Ready in 2012
  • Estimated number of students involved: 300
  • Mission: to measure the effect of radiation on components made up of bipolar transistors

French payload for the Russian microsatellite Baumanets-2

A Franco-Russian project. Failure of the Soyuz launch on 28 November 2017, with the loss in the Atlantic Ocean of the 29 satellites it was transporting – including the Russian microsatellite that contained our payload.

  • French part, by Montpellier University: Payload only : nicknamed FRP Friends (French Russian Payload) 
  • Russian part, by the Technical University of the state of Bauman-Moscow : Microsatellite, the category above nanosatellite (larger) 
  • Co-funded by the CNES and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs : as part of the Franco-Russian Year
  • Student internships part funded by the Van Allen Foundation
  • Development duration : 6 years: Started in 2009 – Experiment ready in 2015
  • Estimated number of students involved : 15
  • In partnership with the Technical University of the state of Bauman-Moscow
  • Mission : to measure the effect of radiation on orbiting components consisting of bipolar transistors