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Project progress

September 2018 - start of the project

The project starts when three master students in Mechanical Engineering at EPFL hear about the field of nano-satellites. They are looking to get out of theoretical learning and exploit their dynamic mindset. The idea is to find the necessary funding from the school in order to sponsor a student space project whose goal would not only be the operation of a satellite in orbit but above all to carry out relevant scientific experiments.


October 2018 - eSpace support

The EPFL Space Center (eSpace) agrees to support the project and facilitates meetings with institutions active in space research. During the first months a first mission concept is drawn up and the first potential partners are identified. A name is found: CHESS (originally for Constellation of High Energy Swiss Satellites). It is this name that will remain, despite some later major changes in the definition of the mission.


December 2019 - 10 semester projects

The first work is being carried out through a dozen semester projects at EPFL and Lucerne. There are a total of fifteen students involved in the mission. The first phase of subsystem design is going very well and the work carried out by the students is of extremely high quality.


Septembre 2019 - kick-off meeting

The official start of the project is announced at a workshop in Brugg, where various players from the Swiss space sector, scientists and representatives from several universities interested in joining the project are gathered. Responsibilities are divided according to the areas of expertise of the parties present. The EPFL will continue to lead the mission and will benefit from eSpace's know-how; the University of Lucerne will take care of the entire telecommunications and ground segment; the HES-SO is volunteering to design some of the electronic boards. Other institutions will join the group at a later stage.

January 2020 - change of payload

Following discussions with several experts and an analysis of funding opportunities, the core team decided to abandon the main payload by another instrument more suitable to the CubeSat format and much more competitive in scientific terms. This is a mass spectrometer developed by the Space Pole of the University of Bern. This change has far-reaching consequences for the mission concept and the design of the satellite. However, thanks to the fantastic work of the students involved, the transition is proceeding very quickly.


February 2020 - interdisciplinary project recognized by EPFL

The EPFL Spacecraft Team (via the CHESS mission) becomes an interdisciplinary project recognized by EPFL. It is, therefore, one of the few projects supported by the MAKE fund committee, whose objective is to give students the opportunity to "confront the issue of interdisciplinarity in order to prepare them to take up the complex challenges that will be presented to them in the course of their professional life". 


This recognition is a token of the committee's confidence in the project and represents a first source of funding. 

May 2020 - PRODEX application

A Letter of Intent is signed by all actors involved in CHESS and sent to the Swiss Space Office (SSO). The purpose of this letter is to inform the SSO of our intention to apply for the PRODEX funding programme. This is an important and mandatory first step before the submission of the full proposal in October 2020. This funding could eventually cover half of the total mission budget. Applications to other programs are also underway.

To be continued...

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