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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 17:46 GMT
'Small' hope for student satellite
Image: Esa
Sseti is one of several satellites being launched (Image: Esa)
Europe's space agency says there is a "small but significant" chance that its first student-built satellite can recover after shutting down on Friday.

A failure in the electrical power system onboard Sseti Express is preventing its batteries from charging.

The spacecraft launched from Plesetsk in northern Russia aboard a Kosmos 3M rocket on Thursday morning.

Ground controllers had to put Sseti into a "safe mode" after they saw its battery power dropping on Friday.

"Naturally, the Sseti teams are disappointed that we lost contact, but the mission has still been a success from both an educational and a technical standpoint," said project manager Neil Melville.

"The main goal of the mission was to educate students by having them involved hands-on in all the different aspects of a space mission, and now we really have experienced everything."

The satellite is the first mission of the Student Space Exploration and Technology Initiative (Sseti).

In conjunction with the European Space Agency (Esa), which funds the project, the students hope to construct and launch several micro-satellites and potentially more complex projects.

Sseti Express carries a camera to take images of the Earth and will act as a transponder to relay amateur radio signals.

Sseti Express also carried three smaller, student-built "cubesats" that it released about an hour into the mission.

Two of these are communicating with the main ground station, but one - a Norwegian picosatellite called NCube-2 - has returned no signal from space.

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