Space activities

Aeronauties and Space Centre

The STELA ground station

The Arsène amateur radio satellite was launched in 1993. Within the scope of this project, developed in co-operation with CNES and the space industry, SUPAERO was contractor for the entire ground segment.

Within this framework, the set-up of the transmission / reception station, organisation of satellite station acquisition and station-keeping operations were accomplished. Four months after its launch, Arsène stopped transmitting.

An orbital "client" was then sought, and soon found... A new station has been installed at Cayenne to receive data from the astronomy satellite HETE produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With two other Japanese and American stations, Stela forms part of a network that retransmits data from the satellite to the MIT Control Centre via the Internet. The station, which has been operational since October 2000 (launch date), has continued after several years to operate faultlessly, with 5,000 visibilities to be ensured yearly.

Software development

In the field of space, the centre has a certain number of complex software tools for simulation and design of space systems developed internally to be perfectly suited to teaching needs.


Orbitography and multi-satellite, multi-station mission analysis software. It allows for 2D and 3D display of all types of satellites and constellations as well as multiple analyses of accesses, visibilities, coverage and radio link assessments. Interplanetary and earth/moon mission analysis modules are under development.


Satellite simulation software. The modules available allow for precise simulation of energy and attitude control sub-systems, as well as simplified simulation of thermal behaviour. This constantly upgraded program combined with Satorb is a powerful simulation tool for a complete space system.


Launcher simulation software.

A micro-satellite functional model

With the aim of illustrating lessons from the space field, CAS operates a satellite simulator made of a model whose main components are:

  • an energy system comprising 4 solar arrays on the sides of the model, a battery and a regulator,
  • an Attitude Control System including actuators (cold gas nozzles, magnetocouplers, and inertia wheels) and detectors (gyrometers, magnetometers, star sensor),
  • a spaceborne management computer,
  • a telecommand/telemetry RF set.

In order best to reproduce the behaviour of the attitude control system, this model is made to be free in rotation (3 axes) using a spherical air bearing.

It is illuminated by an array of projectors that reproduce sunlight.