December 16, 2009 The Minister of Science and Higher Education has signed a decision to grant funding (from the Fund for Polish Science and Technology) for the project:
"BRITE: First Polish Scientific Satellite".
The satellite, which is designed to observe the brightest stars in our Galaxy, is the Polish contribution to the BRITE mission, developed by a consortium of Canadian, Austrian and Polish institutes. According to the agreement with the Minister two Polish satellites have been built: Lem and Heweliusz. Lem was launched to the Low Earth Orbit of 800 km on 21 November 2013, the launch of Heweliusz satellite is planned in the beginning of 2014.
BRITE's design originates from a Canadian idea developed by Emeritus Professor Slavek Rucinski of the University of Toronto, inspired by technology developed for MOST. All six nanosatellites in the BRITE constellation are built according to that concept.
BRITE satellites are so-called nanosatellites weighing less than 10 kg. Poland runs the research program with The Space Flight Laboratory of the University of Toronto which specializes in developing and manufacturing such small satellites. According to the agreement with SFL, the Canadian side provided most of the components and subsystems necessary for the integration of the first satellite, the complete documentation, and trained a team of Polish engineers to properly carry out the integration and testing of the satellite before it was launched. In the case of the second satellite the number of components supplied from Canada were limited. What's more, a large part of the subsystems have been developed in SRC PAS and manufactured in Poland.
BRITE program is an unprecedented opportunity not only for Polish science, but also for the Polish industry to obtain new technologies and at the same time to create a prestigious international forum for the exploration of space.
In this context, the possibility of the implementing a complete integration of both satellites in Poland was very important to Polish authorities, especially regarding completing the tests before launching the satellites into the orbit. Launching a Polish-owned satellite also required taking large formal, administrative and logistical action on a scale not yet implemented in Poland.