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July 26, 2017;

After the successful launch of the Flying Laptop on-board a Russian Soyuz rocket on 14 th July, the Flying Laptop team has now finished the Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP), which is the first mission phase of the satellite in orbit. During this phase, the satellite is exposed to the space environment for the first time, which is why this phase is particularly critical. Thesatellite is generally observed very closely by several ground stations during this phase. For this purpose, the German Space Operations Center (DLR-GSOC) provided the Weilheim ground station (WHM), and the German Remote Sensing Data Center (DLR-DFD) provided its polar ground stations Inuvik (INU), located in the Cannadian Northwest Territories, as well as the German Antarctic Receiving Station GARS O'Higgins (OHG) in Antarctica, with which the Flying Laptop had 60 contacts during the first four days in orbit. DLR-GSOC also provided valuable support determining the orbit of the satellite precisely so that the ground stations can always find the satellite in the sky. The Flying Laptop team would like to thank everyone involved at DLR for their incredible support during this critical phase. The help of these professional ground stations led to problem-free communication between ground control and the satellite, which gave the team one less thing to worry about.


After lift-off of the rocket at 8:36h, the team who controls the satellite needed to wait. Some three hours after lift-off and 45 minutes after the satellite had been separated from the rocket, the team had its first contact to the satellite in space at 11:46h CEST. The first data received indicated that the satellite was in good shape: its batteries were fully charged, it had quickly reduced the rotational rates induced by the separation , the temperature was between 15°C and 20°C and the on-board computer had booted exactly once. During the first pass the on-board time was set and some more data were requested from the satellite. These data were also transferred without any problems.. During the following passes, the system was monitored further, but no problems were observed. Furthermore, the first devices, which are not directly switched on upon boot of the satellite, were taken into operation and tested, e.g. the on-board GPS receiver and the heaters. When the team was certain that the attitude control of the satellite worked as expected, it also successfully deployed the solar panels of the satellite on the second day. During the following days, we took some more devices into operation and finally tested the higher attitude control modes, which allow the satellite to point its cameras towards the Earth or to a target in the sky. Everything went smoothly without significant problems, and all modes and devices worked as expected. The only devices with some problems are the temperature sensors of the solar panels, which are directly exposed to the space environment. However, the sensors are for information only and not used for temperature control. Furthermore, there is small software problem, which restricts the operations slightly in certain cases but is not critical.

After four days of intensive operations around the clock, the LEOP ended on 18 th July with the first test of the satellite's payload. Altogether the team is very happy with the satellite and with how smoothly operations went during this phase.