Weather conditions at Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday were ideal for the launch of the Cygnus automated cargo spacecraft. Powered by the Atlas V rocket, the Cygnus was loaded with 38 nano satellites and tonnes of gear, including Finland's first-ever satellite, the Aalto-2.
Although small, the Aalto-2 is equipped with a spectrometer, a compact radiation monitor and an electrostatic plasma brake, which is a variant on the electric solar wind sail, a new space propulsion method invented in Finland.
The team of researchers and students designed the Aalto-2, which is a little bigger than a one-litre milk carton, to be used in space and space tech research.
Cygnus, loaded with more than three tonnes of gear, was successfully launched at 6:12 pm Finnish time on Tuesday.
Video glitch: Cygnus in 360 degree video
For the first time ever, the US space agency NASA video streamed the launch in a 360-degree video, a format that allows viewers to look in all directions around the screen.
However, due to a technical glitch the moment of the actual launch was not recorded properly on the 360-degree feed. A NASA representative wrote that there are other, non-360 version views of the launch available on YouTube.
The Aalto-2 project is coordinated by a team of five departments at Aalto University after a group of Space Technology special assignment students made a feasibility study. The project began at the start of 2010.