Kickstarter Satellites in Space

ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-X were launched to the International Space Station on 3 August aboard a Japanese resupply vehicle, which is also carrying fresh food, supplies and a talking humanoid robot.

The maiden launch of the CubeSats was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, with backers buying satellites time to run experiments. If there are enough extra time slots, paying customers will also be able to program controls on the satellites and run experiments for three days for $125, or for a week for $250.

Ardusat was successfully launched in space last Sunday 4th August and has now arrived on the International Space Station. Astronauts entered the #HTV4 cargo ship this weekend as robot arms began unloading the craft’s supplies. The H-2 Transfer Vehicle is the fourth logistics craft Japan has sent to the space station since 2009.

Ardusat is the world’s first open Space network, offering everyday people a chance to interact with, and control a satellite for the purposes of running experiments, games, applications, or whatever other new and interesting applications can be dreamt up.

It was funded in part through Kickstarter. Over 676 people gave over $100,000 to help launch the concept. Their original goal was only $35,000. At NanoSatisfi headquarters in San Francisco their first two satellites were monitored by partners and fans.

Ardusat will last from six months to two years depending on the launch conditions. Its lifespan largely depends on its altitude. The lower the altitude, the shorter the lifespan.

Ardusat says the Science Challenge is to hack and use the ArduSat camera to create an Earth horizon sensor, a Sun sensor, or a star tracker. The software challenge is to combine NASA Space Weather Data, ArduSat Space Weather Sensor Data and Earth-based sensor experiments and iPhones data into a global database, mapping how solar storms affect Earths magnetic field in space and on Earth.

Cameras on inexpensive, low-orbiting microsatellites will soon be sending back frequent, low-cost snapshots of most of Earth’s populated regions from space, reports the NY Times.

First into space in the microsatellite business will be the San Francisco company Planet Labs, which plans to launch a fleet of 28 small satellites at the end of the year that will photograph the planet around the clock, with frequent updates. The company has already sent up two trial satellites for test runs, and will dispatch the entire set, called Flock-1, in December.

Planet Labs’ technology, like that at other microsatellite companies such as Skybox Imaging, are benefiting from the progressive miniaturization of consumer electronic components.

Of the 1,000 or so functioning satellites that race around Earth every day, there isn’t one that also doubles as art, says Craig Clark, who runs Clyde-Space, a Scotland-based company preparing to launch this one from Kazakhstan on Oct. 29. It will be the first celestial Charging Station for alien space travelers.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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