Latvia’s first Venta-1 satellite was ready to be sent into orbit five years ago. However, it has not travelled further than Germany since then. The conflict between Latvian and German partners has gone so far that Latvia’s side has begun questioning that the satellite still retains its original functions, as reported by De Facto.
Venta-1 satellite first appeared as an education project in 2011. The satellite was fitted with AIS system, which helps the spacecraft receive orientation signals and send them further to Ventspils High School’s station. In addition, the satellite was fitted with a camera to make photos of the Earth from orbit. Dana Reizniece-Ozola was chosen as the project’s supervisor. It was planned that the satellite would be sent into orbit in the near future. Reizniece-Ozola said in September 2011 that «the rocket in India is set to launch at the end of the year, but we need to slightly reduce the weight of Venta to make it. The second option is Russia’s Kosmos rocket that will launch next year. It will be able to carry Venta with its full weight, but the launch is at a later date». Nearly two years later, the satellite remains on land. Its launch was later promised to be launched into orbit in 2013. «We are prepared. Estonia will be ready soon as well. Lithuania plans to conclude preparations in the near future. It is purely emotionally and politically important for Latvia to be the first to launch its satellite,» – said Reizniece-Ozola in 2013. Lithuania and Estonia managed to send their satellites first two years ago. On top of that, Estonia’s satellite as already completed its mission.
Meanwhile, Venta-1 continues undergoing inspections in Germany before its launch. Gita Revalde, Ventspils High Shool professor, expresses her concern for the fate of the satellite. She is not confident that Venta-1 still retains its design and functionality. In addition, communication with the project lead, Indulis Kanlins, is not regular. «Venta-1 is not to be launched separately. Instead, it will be launched alongside Italy’s Max Valier satellite. It is possible that documents state Venta-1 as part of the Italian satellite, which makes this situation even more complicated. I have no confidence about anything at this point. The only thing I have seen visually, was demonstrated to me, is different from what I saw in 2013,» – notes Revalde.
Ventspils High School has not received technical specifications from Germany. It is known that he satellite’s weight has been changed. Due to uncertainties, Revalde has asked Education and Science Ministry to delegate an independent specialist to Germany. This specialist would inspect and make sure Venta-1 satellite is still the same as it was five years ago. «It was odd for me to find out about that from the press. I have not received any information from Ventspils High School,» – notes Germany’s representative Indulis Kalnins.
There are also uncertainties about funding. Education and Science Ministry claims that the project’s total costs are EUR 250,000. Ventspils High School’s available documents, on the other hand, mention a larger amount: EUR 300,000. EUR 75,000 of this amount are allocated launch into space. It is estimated to take place before the end of 2020.
Publicly available information about the launch of Venta-1 into orbit is controversial as well. It is currently planned that Venta-1 will be sent into space with Italy’s Max Valier satellite. Both will be sent into space using India’s carrier rocket. On Max Valier’s website it is stated that the launch date is 15 May. Other sources state the launch date is 31 May. Unlike Max Valier, Venta-1 is not even mentioned anywhere. «The launch date was 26 May yesterday. I’ve heard that India plans to change the launch date to 31 May. The thing is with space exploration is that it is nearly impossible to pin an exact launch time,» – explains Kalnins.