OUFTI-1: nearly ready for space!
Within eighteen months, amateur radio ("ham") operators should be able to use a Liège 'CubeSat' for their digital communications and connections. This experimental relay in orbit around the Earth has been named OUFTI-1. A popular French term used in Liège, 'oufti' expresses an exclamation mixed with surprise. In the present context, it is also an acronym for "Orbital Utility for Telecommunication Innovations". The nano-satellite is a higher education teaching tool supervised by professors, and it is the result of the work of students, engineers, and researchers at the University of Liège and some of the Liège technical engineering schools ("Hautes Ecoles").
Over the past decade, a community has been developing around the world incorporating student teams who are involved in creating miniaturised space systems. The goal of this community is to approach space - a hostile and difficult-to-access environment - at as low a cost as possible, through teamwork and masters thesis. The 'CubeSat' standard responds to this educational challenge. It refers to a concept that was instigated in the 1990s by Professor Bob Twiggs from Calpoly (California Polytechnic State University) at San Luis Obispo, CA, and at Stanford University, both located in California. He demonstrated that the CubeSat concept was effective as an educational tool, and the concept then spread progressively around the world.