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From Leonding to the stratosphere: HTL students built satellites

From Leonding to the stratosphere: HTL students built satellites
From Leonding to the stratosphere: HTL students built satellites

from left Jakob Schaumberger, Frederik Wögerbauer, Professor Matthias Kurz and Laurin Lintner

The tension will be palpable today at the sports field of the HTL Leonding. At 10:15 a.m., the “LeoSat” satellite, built by four students, will rise into the stratosphere in a helium balloon. In addition to impressive images and videos, it will provide real-time data on temperature and pressure, among other things.

The balloon will burst at 36,000 meters and after 2.5 hours the satellite will land safely on Earth with a parachute. That’s the theory, at least. “The team has been working towards this moment for almost two years and we hope that everything works out,” says 19-year-old Jakob Schaumberger.

Dream of space

The project idea was developed in collaboration with the Vienna University of Technology. Schaumberger, together with Frederik Wögerbauer, Laurin Lintner and Manuel Nöbauer, invested more than 1,000 hours of work over the past 16 months to complete the thesis. “Our goal was to build a satellite that theoretically has the potential to be sent into orbit,” says Wögerbauer, adding: “It was a very exciting journey.”

But the stratosphere is not the end of this journey: HTL Leonding wants to develop the satellite project further – ideally into space. “It’s still far too expensive, but maybe one day a satellite will transmit to Earth from an altitude of 400 to 800 kilometers. You can and must dream,” says Michael Wagner, one of the three supervising teachers.

The current project cost 2800 euros – three sponsors were needed. Apart from the self-developed circuit boards, which were manufactured in China, everything from the electronics to the housing and the ground station was created in the Leonding school. “We are very proud of that,” says the prospective graduate Schaumberger. Professor Matthias Kurz emphasizes that he is not aware of any comparable project in Austria.

Insurance for three million euros

Those involved still have to wait until the weather balloon can take off with the satellite in tow. In addition to good weather and good visibility, Austria Control and the Federal Army also have to give the green light. “We actually wanted to take off after our thesis in April. But because of the high-altitude winds, we would have had to look for the balloon beyond Lake Balaton in Hungary,” says Kurz.

In addition to the production of the “LeoSat” core – a milled aluminum cube measuring ten cubic centimeters and weighing 717 grams – a lot of “paperwork” had to be done. Permits were required and the school also took out insurance for three million euros in case something happened when the satellite descended. “According to the calculations, it will land in Königswiesen – hopefully without any problems – and then the champagne corks can pop,” says Professor Kurz.

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