How much would you be willing to spend for your own personal satellite? How about $300? A project by Cornell
Grad Student Zac Manchester is building small, cheap satellites...and the results are impressive. Kicksat Website
One of the reasons spacecraft are so expensive, is because they’re big, heavy and built one at at time. Kicksat has decided to solve all 3 problems by making hundreds of identical micro satellites the size of a post-it note and only weigh a couple ounces. Each microsatellite has a solar panel, a computer chip and a radio and is built using off the shelf technology. Initial designs are pretty basic and only have the ability to transmit a few lines of text, but they’re also amazingly cheap. Kicksat hopes to reduce costs and improve the features of the micro satellites through mass manufacturing and custom hardware. Future versions could include more sensors like a thermometer or camera. Launching hundreds of disposable satellites opens up unique opportunities like atmospheric research, communications and who knows what else.
Get Your Own Personal Satellite
Kicksat has raised over $74 thousand dollars from a few hundred backers on Kickstarter, many of whom donated $300 or more to get their own personal satellite sent into space. As an added bonus, you can download the designs on Github for free. Anyone who know’s their way around a circuit board and a soldering iron can make their own. That leaves me out unfortunately. Kicksat is yet another great example of the benefits of Open Source Design and standards for spacecraft. Cubesats have been around for over 10 years and we are starting to see more and more projects that would have been impossible a few years ago. When building a nano satellite, you now have two options.
- Build them using all Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) hardware
- Use a combination of COTS and custom electronics
While the first option is easier, it is also more expensive and Zac has mentioned there are many great companies that sell hardware for this purpose.