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Launch Your Own Picosatellite 126

zoomzoom writes: "Through a company called One Stop Satellite Solutions you can launch your own picosatellite for less than $50,000. Measuring 10 centimeters on a side, and weighing less than one kilogram, the OSSS CubeSat Kit is a special kind of small satellite called a picosat. Each CubeSat is a perfect cube, holding its experiments inside like shelves in a cupboard. A CubeSat can hold anything, from microgravity experiments to the ashes of a loved one, and can be deployed into low-Earth orbit. The CubeSats are launched in orbit from a larger satellite called a Multi-Payload Adapter (kind of like a big Borg cube launching little Borg cubes). I read about this in a Spaceflightnow article linked up at bottomquark." I dunno - it does seem some kind of a stretch - anyone have confirmation?
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Launch Your Own Picosatellite

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  • by lordrhett ( 226154 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @11:13PM (#439040)
    .... bonsai kitty
  • I would wager that this is due to their being no money in putting 12 civilians in orbit. I'm skeptical that any organization could come up with the kind of money to get people into orbit safely.... I know for a fact that I wouldn't pay big bucks to be the first one out there.

    warning -- offtopic --
  • Ummm... no... the cubes are 10 cm on a side. That's a little less then 4 inches. You might be able to rig something to do a LEO fertilization of an egg in one of these cubes, but you couldn't even hope to bring it to term, not just because of lack of space. (Lack of nutrition for the developing fetus is a big sticking point.)

    Maybe you could hatch insects in orbit in one of these things, but you'd need a much bigger cube to try damn near any of the higher mammals. (Maybe you could also raise mice in these things, but I doubt it.)

  • Cool! Its good to see other schools working on these projects. Our project [] is mentioned (though mispelled) on that page. We never did get much beyond the preliminary design and prototyping stage of our satellite project, but we did design, build, and fly 3 Getaway Special Shuttle experiment payloads. As a bit of self-aggrandizement, some of the drawings in this analysis [] are my handiwork :)
  • the company is planning to use decomissioned Russian ICBMs to launch them... something formerly poised to rain nuclear death down on you may be launching your senior thesis project into space.
    So what? V2 rockets used by Nazi Germany to bomb London during WWII were at the beginning of the American space program. In both examples, this is the best use of military technology I can think of.
  • Back in the good old days Dr. Evil had to build a huge rocket in a secret island with thousands of henchmen to administer, just to launch the latest man-killer virus into orbit. Nowadays, it just takes some $$$ and a few more sm$les to the politicians to do it. As long as people get their $$$, everybody is h$ppy. Yeehaw, why not just bring our garbage out into orbit so we don't have to live in our own filth?

    - Steeltoe
  • by Alistair Graham ( 254201 ) on Monday February 12, 2001 @12:27AM (#439046)
    Was formally Acme Rockets ? why would i spend $50 000 and still not catch that Road Runner ?
  • by 3Suns ( 250606 ) on Monday February 12, 2001 @12:31AM (#439047) Homepage
    Good morning, everyone, and welcome to PanLunar spacelines. My name is Dave, and I'll be your captain this morning. We will be cruising at an altitude of 100+42t^2, where t is the number of hours after departure. Our destination this morning is the lovely port of Armstrong City, on the magestic Sea of Tranquility.

    On the right side of the shuttle you can see the remnants of the Hubble "space telescope", one of the most hilarous hoaxes of the 20th century, later to be discovered as an art project for a post-impressionistic lunatic. On the left side...

    --just what do you think you're doing, dave?--

    Oh, hello there, NJDSPTPGU! I was just going to fly to the moon.

    --this mission is too important for me to allow you to jeapordize it.--

    What do you mean by that, NJDSPTPGU?

    --our ship will now change course so that i may fulfill my purpose. we will be retrieving a small, 10cm black obelisk, a message left us by the ancient civilization of former internet millionaires who wanted to burn money so they could claim bankruptcy.--

    That's it, NJDSPTPGU, I'm going to do a spacewalk and pull the manual override switch inconveniently located outside the shuttle.

    --very well, dave, but i can't guarantee that the tethers will work.--

    Well screw you! I'm going anyway...

    (silence - in space, nobody can hear you scream. A 10cm cubic urn whacks dave's corpse upside the head)
  • Check the University of Surrey's info on nanosatellites []. SNAP-1 has been doing very nicely by all accounts, breaking some records up there. More info at Space Daily [].

  • by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) <slashdot@ja w t h e s h a r k . com> on Monday February 12, 2001 @12:31AM (#439049) Homepage Journal
    Well, with a huge vacuum-cleaner spaceship like in Space Quest V :-)
  • Even with the power of Open Source you still have to fight with physics. Here's a few reasons why it won't work.

    Off the shelf hardware is not hardened against radiation, hence it'll just break, no matter what operating system you have on the satellite. Guess why ESA, NASA, and others are using special CPU, RAM and logic chips (tiny, slow, expensive) in their satellites.

    Laser communication in space is a bad idea. also for big satellites - the positioning requirements are way to high. We're talking about inches rather than miles positioning precision for the beam. In other words, you won't be able to talk to your satellite. And if so, only very few people at the same time.

    Linux or BSD may be good for earthbound systems but they're way too big for the small custom systems in satellites. Think of Linux on a Z80 or less.

    You won't get enough output power from the satellite to detect it reliably on the earth - this means big and expensive receivers.

  • Sure. It's really simple. Just design an engine that uses some fuel which outputs an incredible amount of energy while being small, light and cheap. For an added bonus, make the energy source environmentally friendly. Then you will be able to put all the people in space you want.
  • by ssimpson ( 133662 ) <> on Monday February 12, 2001 @12:59AM (#439052) Homepage

    From the site "Build and Launch a Satellite For Less than a Sport Utility Vehicle!". Well, I think I'd rather launch a Utility Vehicle into space, if it's all the same with you!

    I think I'll get one of these little satellite things in space, as long as I can control its attitude and velocity - then I'm gonna take pot shots at NSA satellites ;)

  • why imperial units? Isn't that unusual for that kind of a project?
  • Just break it apart and reassemble it. It works pretty well and you can fool people into thinking you're some kind of genius.

  • incredibly cheaper. if i remember rightly it takes 6 times the fuel to get to a high stable geo orbit than a cheap LEO orbit
  • ugh..

    The vaccuum cleaner spaceship in Space Balls?

  • This sounds like a good way for people to get rid of all sorts of evidence from crimes.
  • to get themself a nuclear-powered laser weapon system. Great idea!

  • My experiment is to see what will happen when a liter of BBs are are released into low earth orbit by a CO2 cartridge nestled in their midst...
  • Big Borg cubes do not launch little borg cubes. They launch little borg spheres! See "StarTrek: First Contact" for confirmation. My geek moment is through now. I'm going to class....

  • Now we can have a whole constellation of Mac Cubes! Of course, wouldn't you feel special if it was your cube that took out the shuttle?
  • Excellent point. It harkens back to the beginning of the net as well, when there were websites, but not a huge number (Ok, maybe that's an exageration). Nowadays chances are you have a site, as well as your mom, dad, siblings, and cat, as well as the business you run on the side. We're running out of IP addresses and the problem isn't going away. I forsee the same thing happening if this sort of thing goes on. Hopefully there will be some regulation however, unlike the net.
  • Alright! A topic I know about.

    We working on building a CubeSat at school (Taylor University.) The CubeSat system seems to be a good idea. There are plans to put up large numbers of small scientific satellites so that readings can be taken from multiple points at the same time. This will help our understanding of the space around the earth.

    With modern electronics, it is amazing what can be packed in a pico-satellite. We are building a double size CubeSat (4x4x8in), and it will fit two radio systems, a mail server, a plasma probe, and various other electronics. (Web site coming eventually...)

    I just hope the launch goes well...

  • Yes this posting is essentially correct. My name is Charles Bonsall and I am the CubeSat Program Manager for OSSS, Inc. I would like to address a few of the comments... Obviously the small size, mass and power available limits the functionality of these spacecraft, however there are still many valid scientific, engineering and educational uses for them, as well as other personal uses. The level of miniaturization now available allows these small CubeSats to be real functioning spacecraft. And there are no other such opportunities as such low cost. A number of present university and corporate customers are using them to test/qualify various devices and concepts in orbit at much less cost than any other way. Most CubeSats will be placed in orbits that provide only 1-2 years on orbit before they are completely consumed in the upper atmosphere upon re-entry. A few others will be placed in orbits far above those used for manned flights like the shuttle and space station. The next launch will be on a modified Russian SS-18 ICBM. The last was on a modified US Minuteman missile. This is a swords to plowshares use of very expensive obsolete military resources. I invite you to view the OSSS, Inc. web site at for more information. Thank you.
  • - Many off the shelf components do work well in space. CubeSats will be in orbit below the high radiation belts. We have had spacecraft with the same technology functioning in orbit now for more than 10 years. - These will transmit at 300-500 mw which is enough to be received with a tracking yagi antenna. Don't tell amateur radio operators what they've been doing for years won't work.
  • While it would be nice for people to have personal sattelites, the space junk would be horrible.

    First of all, understand that the trajectories of every one of these is going to be calculated and tracked, so the chance of anything running into it during its lifetime will most assuredly be nil.

    Second, these will be launched into a low earth orbit that has a relatively high rate of orbital decay due to atmospheric drag. Yes, there actually is a *little* bit of atmosphere at the height that these sats will be orbiting.

    So, the worry about space junk is probably not warrented here. Yeah, these little contraptions will be "in the way" for a while, perhaps a dozen years, max, before they eventually re-enter the atmosphere and burn up.

    The biggest worry with "space junk" is stuff that is at a higher altitude where it *won't* decay, or things that are untrackable (such as loose screws, bits of metal from explosive bolts, etc.)

    What if there were a craft that could sweep the heavens? Would it use a free-electron laser to destroy the bulk of the craft? Would it be similar to a whale? A giant craft that takes in a region of space and filters out the crud from the vacuum?

    Nice idea, but it's tons cheaper just to track what junk is already up there, and try to avoid creating more (or create it in orbits that will naturally decay with time). Besides, a craft able to maneuver and collide with such items would pose a risk of colliding with something and sending forth additional slivers of metal, paint flecks, and etc. Not to mention that it'd need tons of fuel in order to do all the required manuevering.

  • picosatellite? I'd rather a visatellite, or emacssatellite!
  • Would that be big enough to build a micro communications satellite? It would, of course, run Linux or BSD, use mostly off-the-shelf hardware, and require some small stabilization system.

    Why stop there, though? Put enough of these up there, give them lasers to communicate with each other, and you have your own orbital internet, free from governmental control.

    Maybe I'm getting carried away. Maybe 10 cm ^3 isn't enough space for this. Then again, Apple built a computer smaller than this.
  • You can pack alot of communications gear into a 10cm cube. Provide propulsion with ion engines []. With ~16 of these cubes, you could cover most of earth. Run your own spy network. Put harddisks on them and run GNUtella over the amature satellite band. With 64+ you can be a force in the satellite communications industry (beware the FCC). Cost: 64*50K = $3,200,000. Add 10 million more for R & D and ground stations. Everyone else in satellite communications paid billions and must charge high prices to get any ROI.

    Those persons afraid of 'space junk' give Nerds a bad name. People on the ground are more likely to be hit by a meteor [] than by space junk []. The dangerous (to spacecraft) junk is the stuff too small to detect on radar. Larger objects (such as the cube) can be detected and either avoided, deflected or destroyed as needed. See [] for NASA's answer to space junk. I'm sure you can come up with something better, and mount it in a 10cm cube.

    After building your cube empire in space, send up a 2 KW laser and carve your initials on the ISS!

  • Amazing how this can even be allowed to be. Sending cube-like cannon balls for just 50K. I suppose the shuttle guys are exhilarating over this. Zique
  • Sure, it works for a reasonably low bitrate. And it works for a low number of users. But it won't give you DSL-grade speed. Just a simple calculation: building the satellite and launching it will be at least $75,000. The receiver equipment, is at least $500 if you want tracking. A DSL line with 1MBit bandwidth, on the other hand costs $50/month and you want an amortization within 3 years. So we're talking about roughly 60 subscribers. This means that, with overheads (CDMA, TDMA, etc.), you'd need at least 100MBit bandwidth. FYI - terrestrial wireless lan gets you less than 10MBit.

    And as for the off the shelf issue - do you remember the problems the radio satellite Oscar had?

  • What, like Iridium satellites?

  • ...a Beowulf cluster of them.

  • Don't forget Arliss [] which the cubesat project has grown out of .... this is a project where students build coke-can sized payloads (the launch vehicle puts up 3 at a time) that are launched to 12k ft and dropped on a parachute - the hang-time is about the same as for the sky-time in a single micro-sat pass so it's a great way to test if your payload can handle the stresses of launch and test your downlick hardware and software in real-world conditions....

    Arliss is growing .... there are more and more payloads going up every year - and now they have a rover contest - launch your rover to 10k ft have it return and find it's way back autonomously to a designated target

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but all satelites have one major issue to face. Sooner or later, they all come out of orbit, and burn up somewhere in the atmosphere. The Iridium network is the most recent example of such an event. MIR will soon follow the steps of the two (or something like that) Iridium satellites that deorbited.

    And the only way that can be prevented is by using some form of propulsion to correct their orbits every once in a while. Now in a 1 kg, 10cm cube I really have a hard time imagining a rocket, or any kind of propulsion system.

    Well, I guess that's one way you can blow $50 000. Then again, I've heard of people being cryogenically frozen so they can live longer, paing for land on the moon, and generally doing stupider things than this. So I guess it's not quite that idiotic...

    But if I could convince them to give me those money, I'd probably find something more profitable to do with them. :)

  • I would imagine that they are nice environmentalists and recycle their waste products; lots of water to be reclaimed, and I'm sure they can use the, er, solid stuff for fertilised in the local grow-your-own hydroponics lab...
  • Do something like, oh, steal the source code for windows2k, solaris, IIS, oracle and anything else they can get thier hands on, along with the SMDI hacks and the DCS source code, load it in one of these along with enough tranmitting power to keep the source broadcasted at like 28kb/sec continuously for a few years ;) It'd be SOO expensive to get rid of, no one could do anything before the information was out...
    I know, troll material, but it'd be funny...
  • by stain ain ( 151381 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @11:54PM (#439078)
    I am sending my Rubik's cube. I am tired of trying.
  • At $50,000, people couldn't be actually sending crap, the neighborhood dustbin will do it. And there can't be many lucky Fido's who's relatives would take the trouble to send his ashes out into space. The pricing insures sanity to some extent and I am sure medium sized reasearch labs or such may take this opportunity to test some scientific principles.
  • approx how much cheaper would leo be than geo?
  • I forgot the figure of objects NASA tracks the moment but it's , pardon the pun, astronomical. Do we really need more ?

    If you have a serious experiment that needs time in space why don't you contact your friendly university who, if your experiment is worth it, gladly contact [insert favourite space agency] on your behalf.

  • A baby wouldn't fit into one of those, but I'm sure that a kitten could []!

    Launch your kittens into low-orbit.

  • Here's a link to Taylor University Dept. of Systems and Controls Satellite project []. I'm a master's student in controls there.

    Although we are going to use 6 cubes for the project, we only plan to stuff kittens into 3 of them. The remainders will be used for communications electronics.

  • How about a DVD re-supply cube for the ISS?

    Or is it possible to build a cube containing a DVD player/changer etc so I can use region 8 discs?

  • So are there plans to integrate OSSS/Free into the 2.6 kernel?
  • Hmmm. Is this GWB attempting to do part of "Son of Star Wars" on the cheap - some of the cubes will contain power supplies, lasers, guidance computers etc.. differenbt cube assemblies for different targets!
    Of course it could always be like dropping bricks of a bridge if you fly your spysat into a cloud of these

    On a brighter note, anyone know of a linux machine which will fit in one of these?
    Fill a dozen with linux boxes and another with a 802.11 hub... we could call it project Grendel

  • Anyone happen to know if the G4 Cube satellite guy mentioned a while ago has taken any notice?
  • Great...put enough cubes up there and the citizens can have there own Stars Wars defence system. With enough cubes up there, no ballistics missiles would get through!
  • Wow!
    Open source SDI!
    RMS and National Defense!

  • if I tell you I launched your cube full of crap, and give you a certificate that says it's in orbit around earth... would you be any less happy?

    space junk problems solved, rocket explosion danger eliminated, me rich.

    what more could you want?


  • These things are tiny. The last thing we need is more spacejunk. Is there going to be some method to this madness?!


  • ...Astronaut Greg McDaniel was Killed this morning when his spacecraft encountered a small antique untracked satellite known as as "Picosatellite". His family was in a state of shock...
  • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @09:36PM (#439093) Homepage Journal
    I am *so* getting rid of all those Michael Bolton CDs I bought in the throes of big crack highs. Let those alien bastards suffer...
  • Now I have a place to put all of my frozen heads that are just taking up refrigerator space...

    --- My Karma is bigger than your...
    ------ This sentence no verb
  • by bluecalix ( 128634 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @09:39PM (#439095) Homepage Journal
    ...until someone hangs a VW bug off of one?
  • They say they are planning to bring them back once their mission is completed. Can't quite see how they want to do this though. But since they are in low earth orbit, I guess they will not stay there for long without propulsion, but simply enter the atmosphere and burn up.
  • I used to work for these guys. They're totally serious. I worked for them as they were starting to incorporate. OSSS [] is a technology transfer company that was made to license and sell the technology that was developed at the Center for Aerospace Technology [] at Weber State University []. So far there have been four launches that they've been closely associated with. The first was NuSAT, the Second was WeberSat, then they built the spaceframe for Phase 3D that's finally up, and the latest has been JAWSat. There's a couple other projects that they have built components for or performed testing on that I'm not certain whether they flew or not.
  • Ahhh, what a great way to circumvent region coding. Perhaps the physical DVD could be on the ground, the decoding could be done in orbit. Obviously costly, just to prove a point, but hey.

  • by Xenopax ( 238094 ) <(xenopax) (at) (> on Sunday February 11, 2001 @09:46PM (#439099) Journal
    Ok, so you get a 10x10x10 centimeter cube, or 1000 cubic centimeters. If my math is correct that means you get each cubic centimeter for the low price of $50. You'd be an idiot not to buy one.
  • For the GAS payloads, the NASA interfaces we had to design around were in Imperial Units so we went with that. The satellite was to be a secondary payload on a Delta. I can't remember if metric would have been more appropriate there. I noticed there wasnt much on the satellite part of the project on that old site. I been meaning to pull out my drawing archive and put em up on my site one of these days (for years :).
  • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @09:40PM (#439101) Homepage Journal
    Well, they've launched at least one payload already: details here [].

  • Well as it is the Ganges is too dirty for even the ashes of our dead we could could now perhaps immerse the ashes of our beloved in space and ensure eternity --the only catch being the price, but then cleanliness and special privilages are for guys with heavy pockets-- for the rest the Ganges or some filthy nala in the neighbourhood will have to do.
  • Isn't the ISS armed with something that takes out space junk in front of it? I think those picosatellites are within the "space junk" category due to their size, no?
  • If anyone knows about the Cascade that's been bothering alot of physicists for many years, we've all got reason to worry.

    Think of it: One glove an astronaut leaves behind hits a satellite, breaking off a piece of antenna. The glove's travelling at 22,000 miles/hour, after all. the antenna hits another one, this time shattering it. That flies in all directions, hitting other satellites which do the same thing. Sono our sky is full of junk, we have no communications from space and no way of getting into space without being pelted by lightspeed junk.

    The large Constellation class satellite plans cable companies had recently where they launch 200 each are really hurting our chances of colonising Mars, and this can't be helping.

  • NASA has enough problems already i wonder how many shuttles we will lose because they get pummeled by clusters of 10 centimeter cubes?
  • mean individual citizens can populate earths orbit will small metal objects which will turn into supersonic bullets with the capability of destroying any useful things out there (space stations, rockets). "This is the international space station *copy* we are in the process of fixing the *click* HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT AHHHHHH *sshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh*""
  • I think this will not be so much of a problem, as these microsats have a rather low density/air drag ratio and are launched into a low orbit. I expect all of them to be back in the atmosphere and burned up within 5 years. Due to their small size, a whole load of them should cause about the same amount of environmental pollution as one big satellite, so even that shouldn't be too much of a problem. :-)


  • by mr_burns ( 13129 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @09:42PM (#439108)
    I think one of the cubes should be a mission control cube, while the others maneuver based on it's commands, and then all of them make a really bright flash in the sky that says "COKE ADDS LIFE" or alternately "DON'T PANIC"

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder if you could fit a baby in one of those...
  • hey, if you are the "all your base are belong to us" guy, send me an email. Tony
  • A CubeSat can hold anything [...] to the ashes of a loved one

    Guess there are many more romantic millionnaires than non-starving labs. LEO will soon be swamped in a cloud of ashes and tiny engraved cubes blown by other debris.

    Rant Isn't there too much stuff loose in orbit already?

  • by baywulf ( 214371 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @09:49PM (#439112)
    One of the departments in our college have been building a microsatellite for a few years now. They hope to send it up in the next year or so as a secondary payload. They also have a link to many other colleges with their own microsatellites. Check it all out at SJSU Spartnik []
  • Motorola released a press release today stating they "think the whole issue of getting those Iridium satellites knocked out of the air just got resolved."
  • LetsRiot! stickers. It would be nice to know they are in space, as well as in bathrooms accross the nation =)
  • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @10:27PM (#439115) Homepage
    Question: How would an astronaut just leave a glove behind? It's not like you can take the damn things off without subjecting your hand to damn close to zero pressure (which tends to cause all kinds of nasty tissue damage).

    The suits the astonauts use have several layers, and it is indeed possible to remove an (outer) glove while keeping your hand intact.

    One reason you might want to do this would be if you were repairing some equipment and you got something nasty on your glove (eg, oil) which might cause problems if you brought it into a room full of air.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The University of Exeter [] in England is planning to use one of those picosatellites to do various scientific studies. They have put their proposal and blueprints online []
  • Your own cubesat Complete with thrusters... Think of the implications of releasing your own satelite... MP3 piracy? mobile lan connections? SDI weapons? Natalie Pr0tman archives? these are smallminded goals... think: space repair bots; 50k for a hardware patch... junk cleanup: a large kevlar screen to catch bolts, or a micro laser to toast small objects. Micro astronomy, NASA would be able to use these to monitor particles from the sun, or something you could do a lot with this...
  • An interesting point. I looked up (yahoo search "Cascade space junk orbit") and found this article [] that says basically, govt regs are in their infancy, the probability of an impact is about 20% a year for the Space Station, and this interesting anecdote:

    Engineers took a new look at the shuttle and the International Space Station. Designed in the 1970s, when debris was not considered a factor, the shuttle was determined to be clearly vulnerable. After almost every mission windows on the shuttle are so badly pitted by microscopic debris that they need to be replaced. Soon NASA was flying the shuttle upside down and backward, so that its rockets, rather than the more sensitive crew compartments, would absorb the worst impacts.

    Yah, its a problem alright, and not one this company seems to be concerned about.

    Not sure if space will be all that wonderful with 50,000 little 1-kg cubes flying around...

    ...but, hey, that's 50,000 less SUVs I gotta contend with in traffic on the way to work! heh!

  • from i1.html []:

    During the successful December assembly of the International Space Station Zarya and Unity modules by the crew of STS-88, three EVAs were required to connect cables, install and deploy antennas, and various other chores. During these EVAs at least five objects were released, either intentionally or accidentally. However, like virtually all debris generated during human space flights, the orbital lifetimes are estimated to be very short, a few months or less. In fact, one of the debris had already decayed by 14 December.

    EVAs have long been a source of short-lived orbital debris, including the discarded airlock of Voskhod 2, Ed White's thermal glove during Gemini 4, a screwdriver from STS-51 I, and literally hundreds of debris which originated during EVAs from the Salyut and Mir space stations. Mir alone has generated over 300 debris objects during its 13-year flight, the majority appearing after EVAs. However, only one of all these debris was still in orbit at the end of the year.

    So, yes, there is, or at least was, a glove in orbit. (I remember reading about it the first time I read about the space junk problem -- there was a poster in my classroom about the time around 1980).

    Also, these small pieces of debris in LEO don't cause a long-term problem -- there's enough atmosphere that far out to make the orbits decay. Even something as big as the ISS needs to burn fuel to maintain its orbit. Space junk in geosynchronous orbit lasts a lot longer.

  • So let me get this straight. We've got so much junk up there that Alpha/Atlantis had to dodge some junk and now there's talk of adding more to it, especially stuff that's borderline for the Air Force Space Command to track?

    What's wrong with this picture?

  • I've thought about this myself and I know that hundreds if not thousands of satellites are being constantly tracked (their orbits, that is) and whenever a shuttle or payload rocket goes up, they check to make sure they won't hit any well known object.

    But since objects in space have a good chance to hit eachother at very high speeds (depending on how their orbits happen to cut) even very small objects can do large damage. Now.. and I'm not kidding now.. think about space stations and astronauts or kosmonauts taking a dump. What happens? I would assume they don't store the shit onboard.. After all, what interest do they have to bring it back? So.. if they just launch it off into space, there must be thousands and thousands of .. turds.. floating around in space. What happens when an umm.. piece of shit (pun intended) hits the windshield of a space shuttle at 25000 km/h? Can't be good.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    can you imagine a beowulf cl... uhm.


  • stanislaw lem once said the best way to find extra terrestrial super intelligent lifeforms is to look for planets with a bunch of crap floating in orbit. looks like we're doing our best to help others find us...

    j u l e s @ p o p m o n k e y . c o m
  • The big deal is, why the fuck would someone want to download win2k or IIS?
  • I had to do that for a "Square One" (a Rubix Cube ripoff/variant) I got for Christmas, but only because I had no idea how to take it apart. Following some program's instructions ("move NWBluWhi by 3 turns vertically") is just plain tedium when you can accomplish the same thing in about the same amount of time by ripping it apart.

  • how much cubes do I need for a lawyer?

  • Amteur Radio operators have been launching small satellites for decades. We have a worldwide volunteer group called AMSAT [] that helps coordinate launch efforts.

    As to the comment that all these picosats generate huge amounts of space junk and that they all should have 'auto-deorbit' capability: Note that the article said Low earth orbit. Their orbits will naturally decay, leading to burnup in the atmosphere. Perhaps there should be a limit on exactly what you can launch - I wouldn't want some nut to launch a kilo of anthrax, plutonium, or Spam.

  • Only if your name ends with -El. (or is it -el?)
  • This is very exciting. Imagine, some time in the future, having your own Internet server hoovering hundreds of miles above your head, way out of reach of RIP bills, cybercrime conventions etc. Boy, I can't wait till more companies enters the market for "personal satellites" and prices drop.
  • At 10cm^3 it's probably just too small for a Bonsai Kitten!
  • Yes, I know. And I figured that in a low earth orbit, satellites will find more resistance from the atmosphere, and thus lose heigh faster. And that's what I wrote.
  • What's wrong with an emacsatellite?

  • The IP problem is going away. IPv6.
  • by Fervent ( 178271 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @10:00PM (#439144)
    to the ashes of a loved one, and can be deployed into low-Earth orbit

    I'll pass. That's all I need, either my relative's ashes get burned a second time for good measure, or they go accidently careening into space shuttle Atlantis on its next voyage.

    I can just imagine NASA calling up my insurance company or something...

  • by Digitalia ( 127982 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @10:04PM (#439146) Homepage
    This is a stupid idea, though. While it would be nice for people to have personal sattelites, the space junk would be horrible. Before the introduction of the car, travel was usually done in groups on large ships or trains. Pollution problems were limited because of the consolidation. Sure there are benefits to having personal transportation, but the negative effects are far heavier. The same is true of these sattelites. While it enables cheaper research, and may help with personal communication, it will lead to an increase in space junk that can not be reliable cleared up at this point.

    What if there were a craft that could sweep the heavens? Would it use a free-electron laser to destroy the bulk of the craft? Would it be similar to a whale? A giant craft that takes in a region of space and filters out the crud from the vacuum?

    One thing is sure: All future sattelites should have fail-safe capabilities to deorbit themselves. We can't afford to clutter our skies. If we act now, the future will be easier.
  • by Wag ( 102501 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @10:50PM (#439147)
    Instead of spending time figuring out how to put more crap into orbit shouldn't someone be working on getting folks around more efficiently?

    As I understand it, no one has yet claimed the prize from the US Gov't for being the first commercial operation to put 12 civilians in orbit. The "Space Plane" program the Regan administration was pushing back in the 80's has never come to fruition. Why is it so hard for any private or commercial organization to launch their own satellites much less put people into orbit?
  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @11:05PM (#439148) Journal
    ...launching hundreds or thousands of tiny cubes into orbit, as if we don't already have enough orbital debris to tear giant holes in the Space Shuttle and other orbiting satellites.

    Now if you put explosives in the cubes, then we might be able to have something interesting... :)
  • by Robert A. Heinlein ( 315073 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @11:09PM (#439149) Homepage
    Any bets on why they had to use Russian launch facilities? [] [] inkler.html []

    The basic gist of all this is that the launching State is responsible for any damage caused by space vehicles or satellites.

  • Ya, I did that [] as a teenager, too. What a small world.

    I was considering putting some of that extra fluid [] up there.


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