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Space Science

Launch Your Own Nanosatellite Into Space 119

First time accepted submitter Rozine writes "Ever wanted to launch your own satellite into space? Thanks to a project at the Cornell Space Science Lab, now you can. In the words of the grad student leading the project, Zac Manchester, 'What better way of showing off your uber-geek credentials than having your own spacecraft?' Zac hopes that by shrinking the size of each spacecraft and using advancements in computer and solar cell technology, satellites can follow the path of the personal computer revolution, opening up space for the masses. For small donations you will receive mementos, but for $300 and up you will get your very own satellite to be launched into space. Perfect for slashdotters and school projects everywhere!" We covered this project in its infancy back in July. I'm glad to see it gained traction.

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Launch Your Own Nanosatellite Into Space

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  • by durrr ( 1316311 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:48AM (#38758004)
    My sattelite is a crate full of explosively dispersed pinballs, will it cost only $300 to launch it?
  • by unrtst ( 777550 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:32AM (#38758224)

    This junk it'll be sending up is damn near useless. They want to see how well the electronics hold up in space... for a few days before re-entry, with no ability to query them, and just a very short message sent (on repeat?) via radio?

    IMO, I'd rather rent a timeslice on something even a tad more advanced. Long term goal is more interesting, and I realize the first launch is mostly proof-of-concept, but that's an expensive proof for something that can obviously be done. I'd be nice if the larger donations got better kicksat boards at least.

    It wouldn't surprise me if there are other projects out there he could team up with that would love to do some swarm robotics up there that wouldn't cost a whole lot more for the individual parts, but could at least make use of there being 100-1000 of them in near proximity in space.

    Further off on a tangent.... I was kinda hoping to see a cheaper launch vehicle for microsats. Maybe a combo of weather balloon and rocket that goes off once it hits near-max-height?

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @02:04AM (#38758328) Journal

    I don't know how flexible (if at all) the parameters are for your very own "chip" sized satellite but wouldn't it be possible to make it survive re-entry? If it were made of ceramic and light (not dense) enough, couldn't it be designed to "gently" de-orbit without building up the heat that would cause it to vaporize.

    Shape might be important too, I understand how that the first space capsule designers were initially flumoxed be the inability of their needle nosed re-entry vehicles to survive more than a few seconds in the hypersonic wind tunnels before melting. Then, a clue from nature in the form of Tektites; spherical blobs of glass of extraterrestrial origin that managed to survive due to the shock wave that protected them. (Russian re-entry vehicles were spherical for a time, now I think they, like the Americans, are using blunt cones). So if they can't be flat, maybe you'll have to take the space of a few "chip" sized satellites to send one golf-ball sized satellite capable of re-entry.

    What a scoop that would be if you could do this! Imagine a worldwide competition for "find the space golf ball" where the person who finds the (hopefully) intact ceramic ball will get a reward and fame. (There could be a code inside to verify the winner, or perhaps DeBeers would sponsor putting a nice diamond in it). If constructed properly, it could be made to float so a water landing wouldn't automatically lose it. Maybe some sort of retro-reflector could be used to make finding it easier as well (but would restrict the likely recovery teams to professionals).

    Actually since the chance of finding one old be so small, I'd imagine you'd have to send up a bunch with the first one found getting the big reward. Still finding any of them would be a great collectors item! Finally there might be some (very small) uses for being able to return (very small) samples from space but because of the difficulty in finding it, it's probably best suited for some sort of game or promotional event.

  • by ChatHuant ( 801522 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @04:04AM (#38758746)

    I don't know how flexible (if at all) the parameters are for your very own "chip" sized satellite but wouldn't it be possible to make it survive re-entry?

    There's my chance to beat the world record for longest drop of an egg without breaking!

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas