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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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  • Great!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:43AM (#38757974)

    Even more "space junk".

    • Re:Great!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:54AM (#38758040) Journal

      Pretty much what sibling said. These creatures will likely be launched into very low Earth orbit, and will likely hit re-entry in less than a couple months at most. A "nanosatellite" won't have any attitude control, or any fuel for that matter. It won't have the means to alter whatever orbit (and subsequent decay) it may get kicked off into.

      • Re:Great!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by grouchomarxist ( 127479 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:19AM (#38758164)

        When it goes from 'having your own spacecraft' to 'had a short-lived spacecraft' it becomes much less uber-geek cred.

        • Re:Great!!! (Score:5, Funny)

          by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:30AM (#38758212) Homepage

          You make it sound like for 300 bucks, you should get your own shark in space, with a frickin' laser on it no less!

          • Yeah, I think there is definitely a lack of perspective here! $300 bucks for your own satellite is definitely pretty awesome.
            • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:15AM (#38760030) Homepage

              You know you can spend $300.00 and build a real satellite right now, in fact it will be far better than these circuitboards that will barely work. It will just sit on your desk until you pay to get it launched.

              In fact for $600.00 I can build one that could act as a ham radio digital communication relay and have enough solar panels on it to make sure it has plenty of power, all from parts at home depot and a tig welder from harbor freight.

              The hard part is getting the thing up in the sky high enough that it stays there.

              • by tom17 ( 659054 )

                Get some ladders and weld them end to end with your TIG welder from Harbour Freight.

        • by rioki ( 1328185 )
          You know, although technically correct, I would not consider the nano satellites a "space craft". When someone rolls out the personal space shuttle, then we can talk space craft...
          • Buzz. Just because you personally cannot ride in it, doesn't mean it's not a spacecraft (one word.) NASA has been calling them spacecraft for decades. The Voyagers are spacecraft. The Pioneers and Vikings were spacecraft. Sputnik was a spacecraft.

            Here's the official NASA mission page;

            "The Pioneer series of spacecraft performed first-of-their-kind explorations of the Sun ..."

      • Re:Great!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday January 20, 2012 @02:44AM (#38758464) Journal

        But that does bring up a good point of who gets to dump shit and why we should start working at cleaning it up but also be working on "no more dumping shit" rules for space. I mean when you look at the history of our ventures into space we got shit from 1950s (Vanguard) still floating up there as useless shit, and both we and the Ruskies were serious slobs when it came to dumping shit in space with no regards for anybody else.

        Now we have not only the Indians and Chinese, who with their sat blowing bit showed they don't give a crap about polluting the hell out of space, we are now gonna have private enterprise (not talking about TFA who is going for a low enough orbit it'll be gone pretty quick) who as we have seen with such lovely messes like superfund sites frankly haven't given a crap about polluting the hell out of earth if it makes them profits, and we are supposed to trust them not to take a big giant dump in space? you just know they'll have everything set up with shell corps they can just dissolve if the poo hits the fan and just walk away leaving the mess while they count their money.

        So we REALLY need to get a hold on this thing now, while its a mess but not an unrecoverable mess, and set up some serious ground rules to protect this valuable natural resource. After all it really wouldn't take much of a disaster to create such a minefield out there our birds would be dropping like flies and our society has gotten too used to having sat communications to let it be a free for all. So while i'm all nothing but love for the guys in TFA I do think it just shines a spotlight on how as things get cheaper its gonna become even more riskier if we don't set down with our nations and set some hard ground rules now.

      • Re:Great!!! (Score:5, Funny)

        by daktari ( 1983452 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @02:45AM (#38758466)
        Attitude control is what I like to see engineered, not merely just in our nanosatellites, but pretty much in all our tech devices.
        • Re:Great!!! (Score:5, Funny)

          by sulimma ( 796805 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @05:25AM (#38759004)

          Yes. In movies like "Dark Star" or "2001" we see what can happen if you do not have proper attitude control in your spacecraft.
          They start to argue, refuse to take orders or just get lazy.

        • by hawk ( 1151 )

          Much as I'd like that, altitude control on my iPad would be nicer.

          Not only for those adverse gravitational incidents that tried ice altitude to 0, but if it would just hover 8 inches above my desk, it would be perfect for holding my coffee! :)


      • Why do you think that a "nanosatellite" needs to control its attitude?

      • Wow, a topic where I actually have firsthand expert knowledge! :)

        IABAN (I Actually Built A Nanosatellite)...

        To be more precise, I assisted a little with the building and did all of the on-board programming, along with extensive ground station testing. I was a member of the University of Arizona's Cubesat Program which worked in conjunction with CalTech. The cubesat was a 10cm cube with a maximum weight of 1kg. We built four sats in the end, one engineering model, two identical flight sats (RinconSat 1 an

    • Re:Great!!! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cwix ( 1671282 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:55AM (#38758044)

      They are aiming for an orbit time of a few days to a few weeks until they reenter and burn up upon reentry. They are doing that specifically so they don't leave any space junk.


    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      Even more "space junk".

      Yeah, but the RIAA and MPAA will hate it! That makes it all worth it.

    • From the linked article:
      Because we will only launch KickSat into a low-altitude orbit, we can guarantee that all of the Sprites will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere within a few days or weeks, leaving no trace of space debris. KickSat itself will last somewhat longer, but should burn up in the atmosphere within a few months.
    • Space Junk No... I plan to make a satellite that will broadcast on all channels the Old 1990's version of Hamster Dance.
      Because I am doing it from space, there are no laws against it!
      If you call that junk, then you are probably quite sane and rational. But where is the fun in that.
    • by BigLonn ( 786463 )
      Excellent!! Now my Mutant Armys can be remote controlled !!
  • My sattelite is a crate full of explosively dispersed pinballs, will it cost only $300 to launch it?
  • space junk (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'd like to send a vial of my swimmers up there. Is there a size limit? I pull out some three-ropers that put Peter North to shame.
  • Piratebay (Score:4, Funny)

    by koan ( 80826 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:06AM (#38758102)

    Are you listening? This is your satellite idea come to fruition.

  • 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?

  • Are they saying that these satellites are 1 billionth of a normal satellite?
    Why do they always want to apply nano to everything?

    • Sheldon Cooper is that you?
    • No, they're saying it's small, as in dwarf, which is the meaning of the Greek word from which science derived its nano- prefix.

      Just because science has borrowed a word and given it a meaning does not then exclude others from using that same word, especially if in doing so they are using the original meaning and not the one added by scientists 50 years ago.

  • 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 sonamchauhan ( 587356 ) <sonamcNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 20, 2012 @02:27AM (#38758416) Journal

      "...best suited for some sort of game or promotional event."

      The rest of the world is just thrilled at the chance of a high-velocity bullet vaporising their skull at any instant or location, all for the sake of some 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!

      • But they might check afterwards and notice the egg is not raw (anymore). Doesn't this violate the rules?

        I'd love to see an airplane competition for the longest flight...

    • 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...

      In the history of objects re-entering our atmosphere, has there ever been a case of something doing it "gently"?

      ...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.

      In a world literally driven by litigation, I can imagine this idea coming to a rather sudden and abrupt halt when said "space ball" hurtling unpredictably through our atmosphere ends up destroying property or killing someone. Mini-parachute deployment perhaps? Dunno. It would probably still be tough to get past the legal team.

  • Screw geek cred. I don't want idiots throwing toilet-paper at the space station. Or explosives.

    How can we not have the infrastructure to move off this crazy planet?

    • Screw geek cred. I don't want idiots throwing toilet-paper at the space station. Or explosives.

      How can we not have the infrastructure to move off this crazy planet?

      Totally agree we need cheap access to space.

      Now where did I leave that ceramic coated rebar? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_bombardment [wikipedia.org]

      -- Terry

    • Screw geek cred. I don't want idiots throwing toilet-paper at the space station. Or explosives.

      How can we not have the infrastructure to move off this crazy planet?

      Ironically you're bashing the very community who will likely make more progress to "move off this crazy planet" than any other organization before it in the next 20 years. Don't underestimate the masses. They tend to find ways of accomplishing things faster and a hell of a lot cheaper than government-ran orgs.

      And the reason we're not "off this crazy planet" is because the 1% isn't done making money here. They're perfectly content...who cares how the rest of us live(or not). I know this may sound like a

      • by x6060 ( 672364 )
        Really? Is there ANYTHING you cant blame on the supposed 1%? Jesus, give it up already.
        • Really? Is there ANYTHING you cant blame on the supposed 1%? Jesus, give it up already.

          Whether you want to call them CEOs, leaders, greedy assholes, by their kitschy "1%" meme name, it's all referring to the same group of those in control. Now if you cannot see it within the painfully obvious example I provided here with Big Oil and their attempts to quash any innovation that creates a major paradigm shift in their profits, and how greed itself has manipulated innovation over the last decades, then obviously we have nothing further to discuss here.

          Greed has gotten us here. It was greed that

          • by x6060 ( 672364 )

            So.. Your answer is no. You can blame everything on the mysterious and truly undefinable 1%. Good job...

            My cereal is soggy in this milk, it must be the 1%s fault. I made a terrible decision to put myself in a huge amount of debt for something I couldn't afford, it must be the 1%s fault. No one is willing to pay me thousands of dollars for this mac and cheese I threw on a canvas and called art, it must be the 1%s fault!

  • To achieve orbit, they have to trade kinetic for potential energy, there is no other way. Traction is lovely, but won't get you into space.

    ps: 2001 called, and wants a royalty for using its buzzwords.

  • ...is how these sprites being sold to us. Yet it wasn't what Sputnik did while in orbit that made it such a marvel, but the ingenuity that got it there. This is a neat idea, but sorry, geek cred can't be bought for $300 or any other amount. For the same money I could build a rocket that would not make it a fraction of the distance (assuming it didn't blow up on the launch pad), but it would be uniquely mine, as would be whatever "cred" that came with it.

  • when I was near the bottom I was hoping that I would read someting like "Wait, there's more!"

  • The aim is to hit some one, as it is a 'satellite' it's all legal.  The chances are minimal but then so is the lottery.
  • And this is how we get to that scene in Wall-E as he's leaving Earth.

  • I liked it in Star Trek when Spock's casket was launched into space after he died. I thought this would be a great way to be "buried". Then I saw this and put the two together. Why not offer this as a funeral service and instead of all the electronics, put 1000 one centimetre cubes in the release box filled with a small portion of the cremated remains. I think this would sell well at just $300 a pop. I would buy my centimetre spot right now. As a bonus, they could offer some 5 minute digital message for eac
    • Maybe I am alone, but I would pay this and much more.

      You can already pretty much do this, though I think it's a lot more than $300. I don't want to directly advertise what I consider to be a kind of shady company, but just google "cremated remains in space."

  • I wonder what will governments say when one of these 300 bucks satellites cause a 100 thousand million satellite to get out of orbit or even an accident during a future space mission

    im completely for freedom to tinker but we need to be aware of the harmful consequences of things we do might have, the trash already in space will eventually come bite us in the ass, if we are going to make more it should at least be for a good reason and not just for epen purposes

  • by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) <saintium.yahoo@com> on Friday January 20, 2012 @02:35PM (#38764966)

    For $300 bucks YOU can go into near space [hobbyspace.com].

    A near space stack consists of a helium balloon, recovery parachute, and nearcraft, and can reach fifty feet (~17m) in length. Such a stack can fly to over 100,000ft (~33km) in altitude yet costs only a few hundred dollars. The balloon expands as the stack rises and will eventually burst. The payload then parachutes to earth and is tracked with GPS data sent via telemetry on amateur radio .

    If you like that idea, check out what the pros [nasa.gov] think about launching satellites from balloons. :)

    • 33 km is 1/3 of the way to space. Please stop perpetuating the boyscouts' sensationalist claims about weather balloons taking their junk "to the edge of space". That nonsense was written for the housewife moms, not for /.
      • So you are saying that the FAI [fai.org] is wrong? That the realm of Near Space doesn't officially lay between 75,000 feet (~23km) and and 62.5 miles (100km)?

    • by hawk ( 1151 )

      >The balloon expands as the stack rises and will eventually burst.

      Not a problem; you won't have to watch. As there is no pressure suit in that $300' your eyeballs will have burst long before the balloon . . . :)


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