Business

Reaktor Space Lab takes off

November 29, 2018

Read time 4 min

Say hello to “Reaktor Hello World”!

At 6.28 a.m. Helsinki time today, our portfolio company Reaktor Space Lab launched Finland’s first commercially-built nanosatellite into space.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if we just, you know, started doing stuff in space?” one of our experts asked his colleague over beers one night.

“Yeah, it would be,” that colleague replied.

Three years later, we’ve built that very satellite.

Today we launched it into space.

Our story

When our team first got the idea for the satellite, we knew little about astrophysics, let alone the nuts and bolts of actually building a satellite.

But we decided to pursue that project anyway. We were eager to learn.

We teamed up with Aalto University to set up Reaktor Space Lab, a portfolio company of Reaktor Ventures that would be responsible for the satellite construction and lead our expansion into the space business. We brought on board the same people who had launched Finland’s first two satellites: Aalto 1 and Aalto 2. Then we got down to work.

We built a mission control center. The team got their hands dirty and assembled a ground station on our office rooftop in the middle of bustling Helsinki.


Then we applied for the necessary permits and bid our time.

During that wait, we added some pretty cool features to the satellite.

There was the addition of a hyperspectral camera which allows us to see within objects into their chemical structures. (It’s particularly useful when inspecting asteroids.)

We also set up an improved antenna that was re-programmed to stop spinning itself to death.

Then we began testing the satellite.

We shook and jolted it as hard as we could.
We floated it in a vacuum.
We heated it up and froze it down.

Yet it didn’t break. It didn’t melt. It didn’t explode.
It worked.

So we knew we were getting closer.

We applied for broadcasting licenses. (And waited, again.)
We scheduled our official launch time. (Then waited some more.)
Until finally, today, we were ready. (And had to wait for the clock to finally turn 6.28 a.m.)

Then we launched “Reaktor Hello World” into space.

Our goals

As a company, we’ve always had one foot in the future. We help our clients understand, adapt, and remain ahead in an increasingly complex world. With the satellite, we had three comparable goals.

  1. We wanted to expand our business into space.
    Reaktor Space Lab, as our new Reaktor Ventures portfolio company, is responsible for building and launching this satellite but also for spearheading our various space-based products and services in the future. As a strongly governed and closed-circle business, we believe there is ample room in the space field for more efficient and modern methods of developing software. There’s a need for a senior-level developer company like Reaktor. With this satellite, we’re launching not only into space but into a new growth phase for our company.
  1. We hoped to learn the end-to-end process of building and launching a satellite.
    The biggest surprise in building the satellite was that not everything in the space industry is as hard as it looks. We built an automated ground station in the center of Helsinki in four months with parts we’d ordered online. Sure, it required a lot of learning and we had to put in many hours, but in the end, we were delighted by how easy and relatively inexpensive big parts of this project turned out to be.
  1. We sought to help Finland establish itself as a leading nation in the field of space engineering.
    It might come as a surprise to many, but there have been space-related industries in Finland for over 30 years now. In fact, there are a dozen active companies in the field. These firms have been part of NASA and ESA projects and we are working together with several of them. With the Reaktor Hello World satellite, we’re helping to further strengthen Finland’s international standing in the global space business.

Our results

As a company, we achieved with the satellite all three of those goals.

We’ve got one foot firmly in the future as we’re deepening our research into communicating through satellites on a global scale. The platform we developed for the “Reaktor Hello World” satellite, for instance, will also become part of the first-ever Finnish-built nanosatellite for the European Space Agency, to be delivered to ESA by Reaktor Space Lab by 2019.

We’ve moved from high-level concepts to hands-on expertise when it comes to building satellites (and we’ve got many other plans in the pipeline).

And we’re solving complex problems, changing how the world works. We’re helping to establish Finland as a leading space nation.

None of us know what will happen next: The satellite could explode on the way up or make it there and not work. Alternatively, it could function like a dream. If it does, it could become one of the coolest things that have ever happened to us at Reaktor.

Either way, we’re going for it. And we hope you’ll join us for the journey.

To infinity and beyond,

#ReaktorSpace

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