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N-Prize Founder Paul Dear Talks Prizes For Nanosat Race

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the cheap-and-quick-buy-the-deed-to-some-space-junk dept.

Space 217

Rob Goldsmith writes to point out this interview with Dr. Paul Dear, founder of the N-Prize, and explains: "For those of you who haven yet heard of the N-Prize, the N-Prize is a £9,999.99 (sterling) cash prize which can be claimed by any individual, or group, who are able to prove that they have put into orbit a small satellite. The satellite must weigh between 9.99 and 19.99 grams, and must orbit the Earth at least 9 times. This project must be done within a budget of £999.99 (sterling)."

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Get into orbit for a grand? (3, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823175)

I wonder if bribing someone at NASA or ESA to include your mini-satellite as part of the payload of the next launch would be acceptable; it's probably the most realistic chance...

OT (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823273)

How many Irish does it take to change a light bulb?













Two: one to hold the light bulb still and one to drink till the room spins.

Re:Get into orbit for a grand? (2, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823353)

Bribe? Launchers carry an awful lot of ballast up with each rocket, it might be easy to get Lockheed, Boeing, ESA or NASA to switch some of that for a well designed and built beeper sat to piggy back on the last stage of a geosync launch maybe, especially if it raises their profile in a charitable fashion.

Re:Get into orbit for a grand? (5, Informative)

jersey_emt (846314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823379)

From the rules at http://www.n-prize.com/ [n-prize.com] --

15. Piggybacking and Shared Resources
Entrants may not 'piggyback' on other aerospace projects (for example, by launching a satellite as a passenger on a larger launch vehicle). If they do so, the entire cost of the launch will be considered part of the budget of their N-Prize entry. Similarly, no two entries (whether simultaneous or consecutive; whether by the same entrant or different entrants) are allowed to share the cost of common hardware (for example, if a single launch vehicle carries two satellites, then the total cost of the launch vehicle will be considered part of the budget for each of the two satellites).

Re:Get into orbit for a grand? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823705)

There's two problems with that. Let me explain with some anecdotal evidence from my life yesterday: I'm traveling home along the Interstate at 5pm. The speed limit is 65. The traffic is pretty thick, but most of it is doing 60 in the right lane and 65 in the center lane, while I'm cruising at about 70. So I'm passing the 65 traffic in the left lane, when some POS blue car comes up behind me and starts tailgating. Because of the traffic, there's no safe place for me to pull over (the people here generally travel about 1 second behind each other which is not safe to merge into). Anyway, this POS is tailgating me so close that I can't even see his headlights, which is a huge safety issue, since that also means I can't see his turn signal (not that he would probably use it, but it's the principle, and I couldn't know for sure). So I tap my brakes to get him to back off, he doesn't. By the time I reach a gap to my right where I could merge over, the guy whips around me into the middle lane, preventing me from merging over to let him and possibly other traffic pass me.

Re:Get into orbit for a grand? (0, Offtopic)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824483)

What the hell does that explain, other then that some people can be assholes when driving on the motorway?

"D" Engines (1)

BodhiCat (925309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823731)

I wonder how many Estes "D" engines it would take to do this. Hmmm ....

Re:"D" Engines (2, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824039)

I remember seeing an analysis of this idea quite a few years back. In short, in order to add enough thrust using "D" engines to make it to orbit, you add so much extra weight that you'll never make it to orbit ... adding still more engines just compounds the problem.

Of course, this analysis was done assuming launch from ground, not launching from ... say ... a balloon launch platform at 20000m

Re:Get into orbit for a grand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824463)

The real problem comes down to how you're going to track the thing to prove it's in orbit. At 20g, it's too small to carry power + a radio emitter, and still have any consistency. Any signal it could put out at that weight would be completely drowned out by the atmosphere.

So, you'd need to turn to actively scanning for it, e.g. a multimillion dollar high precision radar system. Good luck buying, renting... SEEING one of those for $2k.

Telescopes? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824649)

Ask these guys [mcdonaldobservatory.org] and their friends for help - it IS allowed by the rules.

Re:Get into orbit for a grand? (1)

jfsimard79 (1303437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824755)

Exactly the first thing I thought about.

What is a sterling? Pound? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823187)

If so, why not say so?

Re:What is a sterling? Pound? (4, Funny)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823303)

It's pound sterling, but I guess that £ only stands for pound so they felt it necessary to say sterling too. Whatever, I'm from Georgia and played in the mud as a child, so I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be trying to answer this.

Re:What is a sterling? Pound? (3, Informative)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824183)

The official name is Pound Sterling and normally use to distinguish from other countries currency. The plural is Pounds Sterling. Informal, and not officially, is British Pound.

The pound sign comes from "L". Where LSD - librae, solidi, denarii - was originally used in duodecimal from pounds, shillings and pence.

I never in my life thought that history lesson from high school would ever come in hand.

Re:What is a sterling? Pound? (4, Informative)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823495)

It's a pound that's 92.5% pure

Re:What is a sterling? Pound? (0)

spazdor (902907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823843)

to whoever modded this informative:

*whoosh*

Re:What is a sterling? Pound? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823573)

Perhaps to distinguish it from an Egyptian pound, or the Cypriot Pound.

Re:What is a sterling? Pound? (4, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823661)

From Wikipedia:

Name

The full, official name pound sterling (plural: pounds sterling) is used mainly in formal contexts and also when it is necessary to distinguish the currency used within the United Kingdom from others that have the same name. Otherwise the term pound is normally used. The currency name is sometimes abbreviated to just "sterling", particularly in the wholesale financial markets, but not in amounts; so "payment accepted in sterling" but never "that costs five sterling". The abbreviations "ster." or "stg." are sometimes used. The term British pound is commonly used in less formal contexts, although it is not an official name of the currency. A common slang term is quid (plural quid).

The term sterling is derived from the fact that, about the year of 775, silver coins known as "sterlings" were issued in the Saxon kingdoms,[6][dubious - discuss] 240 of them being minted from a pound of silver, the weight of which was probably about equal to the later troy pound. Because of this, large payments came to be reckoned in "pounds of sterlings", a phrase that was later shortened to "pounds sterling". After the Norman Conquest, the pound was divided for simplicity of accounting into 20 shillings and into 240 pennies, or pence. For a discussion of the etymology of "sterling" see Sterling silver.

The currency sign is the pound sign, originally with two cross-bars, then later more commonly £ with a single cross-bar. The pound sign derives from the blackletter "L", from the abbreviation[citation needed] LSD - librae, solidi, denarii - used for the pounds, shillings and pence of the original duodecimal currency system. Libra was the basic Roman unit of weight, derived from the Latin word for scales or balance. The ISO 4217 currency code is GBP (Great Britain pound). Occasionally, the abbreviation UKP is used but this is incorrect. The Crown dependencies use their own (non-ISO) codes: GGP (Guernsey pound), JEP (Jersey pound) and IMP (Isle of Man pound). Stocks are often traded in pence, so traders may refer to pence sterling, GBX (sometimes GBp), when listing stock prices.

Re:What is a sterling? Pound? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823737)

The UK is not the only country in the world to use the Pound, just like the US is not the only country to use the Dollar. The sterling specifies that the currency is GBP, Great British Pound...or Sterling (for the old timers).

What? (3, Funny)

Paranatural (661514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823205)

This guy just have a fetish for the number 9 or something?

At least it's a new one, can't find a term for it anywhere.

Re:What? (2, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823543)

Turn it upside down and all will be clear.

BURN THE SATANIST!

Re:What? (4, Funny)

Half a dent (952274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823581)

This guy just have a fetish for the number 9 or something?
Nein.

Re:What? (1)

dfetter (2035) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824569)

Paul is dead.

So you are designing space junk (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823217)


or a 65,000mph cannonball
cant wait to see someone hit a satellite with it, if only to see the reaction on the Scientists faces

Re:So you are designing space junk (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823685)

Interesting point.
I wonder is some of Gerald Bull's plans are still around :-)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Bull [wikipedia.org]

You are designing a cannon to launch satellites (4, Informative)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823927)

The simplest way to launch satellites is to design a great big gun. The U.S. did some experiments with this with Project HARP [wikipedia.org] . They were abandoned because manned flight required lower g-forces. However, if you just wanted to put a satellite into orbit, then guns can make sense.

Unfortunately, the last guy to try this (Gerald V. Bull), went on to attempt to build a super-gun [wikipedia.org] for Saddam Hussein, and then mysteriously got shot [wikipedia.org] (possibly by Israel's Mossad).

I'm not sure I want to win this contest. There have been quite a few projects in the area, and they all get canceled.

Re:You are designing a cannon to launch satellites (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824989)

Yeah, but try to build a gigantic gun for ~$2000 (I assume your satellite in this case is a cheap hunk of metal). The cost and size requirements on this challenge seem squarely aimed at the amateur rocketry crowd, and even then it's a pretty difficult challenge. My guess is that if it's won, it will be with some design employing those large model rocketry engines (not some Estes bottlerockets) and multiple stages.

English - English Translation... (5, Informative)

KlTheKiten (20181) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823239)

"For those of you who haven yet heard of the N-Prize, the N-Prize is a $19,636.90 (dollars) cash prize which can be claimed by any individual, or group, who are able to prove that they have put into orbit a small satellite. The satellite must weigh between 0.35 and 0.71 ounces, and must orbit the Earth at least 9 times. This project must be done within a budget of $1,963.67 (dollars)."

Re:English - English Translation... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823265)

Don't you mean rational measurements and British currency into stupid measurements and a currently rather crap currency translation?

After all, who the fuck uses ounces except stupid people and people who don't know how to use rational measurements?

Re:English - English Translation... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823299)

Drug Dealers

Re:English - English Translation... (4, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823387)

But only pot dealers. Cocaine and heroin come in metric... or so i've heard.

Re:English - English Translation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823429)

Done in metric round here and has been for a long time (so I'm told).

1/8 oz got downgraded to 3g in the process too (so I'm told).

Can't wait to get home tonight (so I'm told). =)

Re:English - English Translation... (2, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823535)

That's cuz metric is a plot by the Government, man. You know in England when they switched to metric in bars they went from getting a pints to half litres and the price went up, man. Half litre is like way less than a pint, man. The bars sell you less beer and the price goes UP. Bar makes more money and the government stops people drinking.

Mind you, people should stop drinking. That shit makes you paranoid. You're better off sticking with dope.

Re:English - English Translation... (3, Informative)

dkf (304284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823615)

You know in England when they switched to metric in bars they went from getting a pints to half litres and the price went up, man.
Beer is still sold in pints (and half-pints) in England. Really.

Re:English - English Translation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824059)

And everywhere else. It's just not called a 'pint' due to weights and measures requirements. Similarly, I technically buy apples by the kg, but they're still priced by the pound (which is my unit of apple selection, and thus, it's rate for me).

Re:English - English Translation... (1)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823641)

The only small problem with this amusing story is that pubs in England still sell beer by the pint. Perhaps the dope makes you hallucinate?

Re:English - English Translation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823703)

perhaps those pints have ruined your humor detector...

Re:English - English Translation... (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824193)

>Half litre is like way less than a pint, man.

Leaving out the obvious fact that English pubs still serve beer in pints, 0.50 liter = 1.06 pints. This should be blindingly obvious from the rather well-known fact that a liter is larger than a quart. But, given your rather beerish handle, I figure you already know all this. :-)

Re:English - English Translation... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824531)

Except that in this context your "well-known fact" is wrong. English pubs use Imperial Pints. They are significatly larger then US Pints.
0.50 liter = 1.06 US pints = 0.88 Imperial pints.

Re:English - English Translation... (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824925)

>0.50 liter = 1.06 US pints = 0.88 Imperial pints.

[Smacks forehead] My bad. US pint, Imperial pint, Scottish pint, US dry pint, (argh) troy ounce, avoirdupois ounce, apothecaries ounce, Maria Theresa ounce. God, I used to know all this stuff. Thankfully beer helps one forget. :-)

Re:English - English Translation... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824615)

>Half litre is like way less than a pint, man.


Leaving out the obvious fact that English pubs still serve beer in pints,

Yeah, they do. But if they switched over to metric and served half litres that would be smaller, since UK pints are bigger than US ones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pint#Definitions [wikipedia.org]

The imperial pint is equal one eighth of an imperial gallon.[1] It is used in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, though mostly replaced by metric units.
568.26125 millilitres
The US pint is smaller, around 473ml.

They haven't switched, at least the last time I was there.

But I was really joking about stoners claiming dope was safe whilst showing clear signs of paranoia and whatever speech disorder makes you say 'man' and 'like' regularly. Verbal wait state syndrome perhaps. It reminds me of a bad real time system where sound or video stutters because some software component can't get buffers filled fast enough. Not something you'd want to happen to your brain anyway.

Re:English - English Translation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823545)

Pot dealers only use ounces for small amounts anyway. Large amounts for shipment are measured in kilograms. They're about where American engineering is as far as metric units go.

Re:English - English Translation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823305)

After all, who the fuck uses ounces except stupid people and people who don't know how to use rational measurements?
Stoners.

Re:English - English Translation... (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823393)

Don't you mean rational measurements and British currency into stupid measurements and a currently rather crap currency translation?
What does it matter? As long as the conversion is accurate, why should anyone be offended?

Hell, I'd like to see the units translated to cubits and hogsheads.

Re:English - English Translation... (1)

Clete2 (823221) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823407)

Woohoo, thank you! :D I estimated it all in my head, but exact numbers are welcomed. :)

Re:English - English Translation... (3, Insightful)

Paranatural (661514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823467)

Launching it for a couple of grand? Maybe. I'm being serious, really, I can conceive it.

However, a satellite weighing less than three quarters of an ounce yet able to be detected on the earth would most likely need an aluminum-foil dish or something, which would most likely take all the weight, and then you'd need some sort of support structure (Even if it's just wires or even tubes of air) and some sort of engine on it to make sure it made it around the earth a few times...I just think the weight requirements are the real killer here.

Re:English - English Translation... (0)

Crazyswedishguy (1020008) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823869)

You'd need an engine for the launch, but once you get it to the correct altitude (which is the though part), it should fall into orbit naturally (if I remember my physics classes correctly).

Here's an article on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] that describes several different geocentric orbits.

I'm guessing the "easiest" in terms of launch would be a low-earth orbit. However, at that altitude you risk being subject to drag. Plus, it may pose a risk to airplanes.

If you can get it up to 35,786 km of altitude, you can put it in geosynchronous orbit. This would make it much easier to track the satellite, as it should essentially stay in the same position with respect to your position.

Seriously, this isn't rocket-science. :P (just had to throw in the joke - I'm no rocket-scientist, and I'm sure it's a difficult challenge)

Re:English - English Translation... (1)

Paranatural (661514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824303)

Well, I believe the problem is it doesn't just 'fall into place naturally'. It is pretty unnatural, after all. The real issue is positioning. Yes, if it gets in the prefect position, then it will have no issue staying up there by itself (at least for a little while..), however, you need to be able to maneuver it into the correct spot, so you have to have a way for it to position itself. It also has to be able to keep it's orbit from decaying for at least 9 revolutions, but I'm guessing if you are in the correct spot that isn't a big deal. Anyway, the point is you need the engine on the satellite to hit that sweet spot that the rocket won't be able to perfectly plant you at.

Re:English - English Translation... (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824617)

Sputnik didn't need a maneuvering engine; its rocket was able to put it into the "sweet spot" just fine. Anyway, an engine is an engine is an engine. Ballistics are ballistics. The Tsiolkovsky equations are what they are. Once you've begun to perpetrate rocket science, the second stage of your launch vehicle is just as good a maneuvering engine as is a third stage bolted to the payload itself.

Re:English - English Translation...For Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823489)

As most of the rest of the English world uses metric

Re:English - English Translation... (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823583)

I think you mean

"For those of you who haven yet heard of the N-Prize, the N-Prize is a $19,636.90 (US) cash prize which can be claimed by any individual, or group, who are able to prove that they have put into orbit a small satellite. The satellite must weigh between 0.35 and 0.71 ounces, and must orbit the Earth at least 9 times. This project must be done within a budget of $1,963.67 (US)."

to distinguish $ (US) from $ (Australia), $ (Singapore), etc. Similarly £ (sterling) is not the same as £ (Egypt) or £ (Syria). It is a bit redundant in both cases though.

Re:English - English Translation... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823607)

You forgot to convert the '9 times' to American:

must orbit the Earth at least 9 totally freakin awesome times

Re:English - English Translation... (4, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823619)

Of course, as we watch the US dollar continue to lose value, we can take advantage of an increasing budget limit for the same here in the states.

Tight budget (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823281)

£999.99 could probably buy enough menthos and coke to launch the projectile.

bet (1)

bzudo (1151979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823335)

How much you wanna bet I can throw that satellite into orbit?

Re:bet (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823421)

How much have you got?

0.999999999 pounds (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823865)

Sterling, naturally.

Re:0.999999999 pounds (1)

bzudo (1151979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824757)

well, i did throw a football over a mountain once

Not very impressive (- o -) (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23825035)

Get a baseball [agonybooth.com] into orbit and we'll talk.

Slingshot (2, Funny)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823339)

Hmm, with a budget of ~$2000, I just need $1000 worth of rubber tubing and two mountains. Anybody want to design the satellite?

Re:Slingshot (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823469)

Don't forget to budget for hiking shoes with really good tread.

Re:Slingshot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823629)

A dime of some killer hindu kush in a ziploc bag is only $10...

A rocket scientist asks... (4, Interesting)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823347)

WHY!?

Is this some prototype for a global diamond delivery system? Serious, apprise me of the value of putting less than an ounce of something into orbit. And it's the "orbit" part that's tricky. A sufficiently large model rocket can do Alan Shepard-esque sub orbital flight. But to then pop it into orbit with a "circularizing burn" is tricky... on a budget.

I'm trying to not be a troll here, but this prize is designed to develop a $2K ICBM for very tiny payloads. If you put VX gas into something that might survive reentry, you'd have the plot for an Austin Powers movie. I'd call it "MoonShagger: It's a gas gas gas."

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823449)

WHY!?

Is this some prototype for a global diamond delivery system? Serious, apprise me of the value of putting less than an ounce of something into orbit. And it's the "orbit" part that's tricky. A sufficiently large model rocket can do Alan Shepard-esque sub orbital flight. But to then pop it into orbit with a "circularizing burn" is tricky... on a budget.

I'm trying to not be a troll here, but this prize is designed to develop a $2K ICBM for very tiny payloads. If you put VX gas into something that might survive reentry, you'd have the plot for an Austin Powers movie. I'd call it "MoonShagger: It's a gas gas gas."
FACT: there is absolutely no sensor or computer technology in the world that weighs a under and ounce and never ever will be!

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823599)

[citation needed]

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (3, Interesting)

Eponymous Bastard (1143615) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823671)

FACT: there is absolutely no sensor or computer technology in the world that weighs a under and ounce and never ever will be!
Yeah. Sputnik weighted 83.6Kg

You need to get an antenna and transmitter powerful enough to be trackedfrom earth an weighting 20 grams. Or put up some sort of light radar reflecting sail (only has to orbit 9 times on LEO and burn up, doesn't say it has to do anything useful).

I wonder if the tracking side is included in the budget or if you can borrow some really big antenna to try to detect the junk you put up.

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823713)

Nah! Make a tiny tin foil 'hedron' that has retro reflector shaped dimples, that when spinning, spell out something in Morse Code, and let NORAD's antennae confirm its presence.

Maybe it could say:

Frist P0st!

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (1)

mrogers (85392) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824707)

You don't need a transmitter or even a reflector - just put a penny in orbit and use it to shoot down the space shuttle.

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823701)

Exactly. And what good is a newborn baby, either?

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (1)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823769)

Tastes good. (Or so I'm told.)

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (2, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824469)

It is not the satellite that is important. It is the launcher. A 1000 £ orbital launcher of 20 grams satellites is assured to bring some innovation to the art of spatial launch.

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (1)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824607)

You haven't convinced me. Tell me a 20g payload that is worth the effort of making you look like you are developing a WMD delivery system, or a SAM.

And who is to say that this 20g can't be scaled up to haul 20KG or 200KG. Then, things get dicey.

I apologize for this paranoid mindset. I HATE to see rocket science subjugated to politics (as if it never happened before). I really do. But maybe 7.407284965 years under "the current administration" is long enough to get the feeling that if you TRY to do this, you will raise ALL KINDS of attention from a lot of 3-letter organizations.

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (2, Insightful)

Urger (817972) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824521)

Because it's cool. No other reason is needed.

Re:A rocket scientist asks... (3, Insightful)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824653)

In a better world... True that!

But most things that involve BOTH propellant and the word "Cool" violate the National Association of Rocketry Safety Code. Let alone the Patriot Act!

Brilliant meme! (4, Interesting)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823483)

What a brilliant marketing meme: with just one borderline-ludicrous sentence, he managed to get many thousands of people talking, got his name in the news, launched a website, and promoted the website creation company, all at practically no cost, backed up (should someone ever achieve the borderline-ludicrous challenge) by a home-equity loan. The publicity-to-signal ratio is huge, at miniscule cost.

Great, more space junk. (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823505)

With these satellites being so small they will become distinguishable from space junk.

With battery life being so short, it will revert to junk in no time. I doubt solar panels would survive a journey from the "delivery system" unless it put in space via traditional means costing way more than £9,999.99 (sterling).

Those guys got it backwards (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23823537)

*Prices* look like 9,999.99 so they appear small.
*Prizes* should look like 10,000.00 so they appear big.

Enough with the nines already (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823601)

Jesus

Sounds unfeasible (3, Insightful)

OhEd (877009) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823623)

Getting into orbit for less than $2,000 seems absurd (and not even worth firing up Rocksim to get specific figures). Ground launch would require very large motors - just the motor casings (solid or hybrid fuel) would likely cost over $2000. (98mm solid fuel casing costs about $500; that size motor might be able to achieve orbital altitude, but nowhere near orbital velocity). Add the cost of the fuel and a guidance system, surely it would cost many tens of thousands of dollars to get into orbit. Any other rocketeers here see a way to get into orbit for anywhere near $2,000? Or even $20,000? Sounds to me that the Dear Doctor has been Pounded on the head by a (sterling) Silver Hammer.

Re:Sounds unfeasible (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824155)

You are aware that the goal is to launch a "satellite" the weight of a 9 millimeter bullet? (Intriguing - isn't it? Another 9.)

And where does it say that you need to guide it anywhere?
It just needs to go around the Earth 9 times.
Calculate it right so it stays up for 9 orbits or more.

Now... anyone have the numbers on costs of launching a weather balloon per pound of gram of weight?
Seems to me, that if all you need to get up there is 10 grams of cargo, you might send the launch platform couple of kilometers closer to the target first relatively cheap.
Also, climb a chair (or a mountain) before the launch. Every little bit helps to save on the fuel/weight ratio.

Re:Sounds unfeasible (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824187)

Surely one could build a cannon.

The payload would have to be pretty robust, but on the legal side, perhaps it falls under the second amendment.

Re:Sounds unfeasible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824555)

Well, you've ruled out rockets. I think that's the all point of the prize : a think-outside-the-box competition.

Request For Comets (2, Interesting)

naily (672109) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823637)

Aren't there enough issues with space debris, without 1000 amateurs chucking miniature debris into space? It's tantamount to throwing rocks at satellites and NASA shuttles, isn't it? What is this, space guerilla warfare??

Re:Request For Comets (2, Interesting)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823907)

Almost. If anyone accomplishes this on that budget or even 10 times that budget then it will become much easier for a terrorist or private citizen to start launching objects into orbit or near orbit depending on what the objective is for the individual. Such a device would allow anyone to start launching kinetic weapons at anyplace on the planet. Fire enough of them and the damage could be pretty widespread even if the targeting is not that good.

-- quizical look (1)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823709)

Is there a point to this "challenge"? While I've wasted my time on pointless things in the past just because I thought they were "cool", this sounds like so much self-flagelation to me -- especially on the part of the so-called "founder".

Ever seen The Right Stuff (1983)? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824881)

Ever seen The Right Stuff (1983)? [imdb.com]

There is this scene where Gus Grissom (played by Fred Ward) is drinking in the bar and is trying to woo a certain waitress who is playing "not very impressed with just another astronaut".
So he shows her a pocket model of Apollo capsule and asks her if she's got one of those.
She answers - sure, they are about a dollar at every thrift store.
Gus answers "Yes, but did you ever have one that went up there?", at which she distinctly changes her posture about him being "just another astronaut".

There it is my fellow slashdotian.
Taking small things into orbit gets you laid.

So how do you buy enough explosives... (1)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823803)

So how do you buy enough explosives to accelerate the payload enough to get it into orbit?

There are really several problems here.

First calculating how much gunpowder, TNT, ammonium nitrate , fertilizer/diesel, C4, etc. it would take to accelerate a small payload to orbital speed.

Second problem is to build a payload that can survive the acceleration.

Third is hitting it big on roulette to get enough money to pay for the explosives.

Fourth is how to get out of jail when you place the order for the explosives.

Some how I think the bail money would be more than the project allows.

Why an upper weight limit? (4, Insightful)

seriv (698799) | more than 6 years ago | (#23823957)

If you can get something in orbit for about $2k, I don't see why an upper weight limit would matter. Satellites are made as light as possible to keep down the cost of the launch, so I would think the goal would be to make the thing as heavy as possible within that budget. Whole thing seems stupid.

Beer in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824019)

Importantly, beer in the UK is sold in Imperial Pints (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pint) - these are significantly larger than the US equivalent, proving once and for all that US beer drinkers are all a bunch of lightweights.

There, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824215)

Buy 10 grams of sugar and leave it there for 9 days.

Good idea - even if not allowed... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824595)

The satellite must be a single object; for example, a cloud of un-connected co-orbiting particles does not count.
Get 10-20 grams of very thin tin-foil instead. The kind used for hats is probably too thick.

"Track" it using telescopes from earth.
Get your amateur astronomers friends from around the world to help out by donating the time and eye-labor.

16. Orbital Monitoring All entrants must be able to provide evidence that their satellite has completed a minimum of 9
orbits of the Earth. The costs of providing this evidence must be borne by the entrant, but do not
form part of the £999.99 budget, except for the costs of any equipment (transmitters, reflectors
etc) mounted on the launch vehicle (including satellite) to enable detection. For example, the cost
of a radio transmitter on the satellite will be considered part of the budget, but the cost of ground-
based equipment to detect and monitor transmissions from the satellite will not be considered
part of the budget. (However, if the same equipment is used to control some aspects of the
launch, then this will be considered part of the launch equipment and hence may fall under the
budget). All entrants must explain before launch how they will provide proof of orbits, and must
agree with the organisers that this proof will be acceptable. There is no need to observe or track
the satellite throughout its orbit, as long as sufficient data is collected to confirm that 9 orbits have
taken place. Entrants are welcome to recruit third parties to assist with orbital verification. The
organisers must be satisfied that the collection of proof-of-orbit data is reliable, unambiguous and
(if judged necessary) validated by disinterested parties. Note also that proof may be required that
a detected signal originates from the satellite itself. The acceptability or otherwise of proof of orbit
will be decided by the organisers.
Contact the organisers at info@n-prize.com
Also, sections 12-14 are rather interesting money-vise:
http://www.n-prize.com/assets/rules_in_full.pdf [n-prize.com]

12. Budget The budget for each launch is £999.99, and all costs are entirely the responsibility of the entrant.
The budget must cover the following:
a. The launch vehicle, including the satellite itself, and any fuel, gases or other materials
which it carries; in other words, anything which leaves the ground.
b. Any items of the launch equipment could not be re-used for a second identical launch
(for example, gun-type propellants, or railgun rails which are rendered unusable in the
course of the launch).
c. The cost that would be incurred for refurbishing, refilling, re-testing or otherwise
preparing any launch equipment or any aspect of the launch site, if a second identical
mission were to be carried out.
d. Any manufacturing costs for any parts of the launch vehicle or for any parts of the
launch equipment that would require replacement in order for a second identical
mission to be carried out (for example, such costs would include the custom
machining of a piece of metal forming part of the launch vehicle, if this is contracted
out).
As a rule of thumb, the budget of £999.99 should enable you to conduct a repeat of a successful
mission. However, all entrants are advised to contact the organisers to confirm that their
calculation of expenditure is acceptable.
Items which need not be covered by the budget include prototyping costs; launch equipment or
the launch site (except for costs which would be incurred for a repeat mission, as stated above);
licence fees, permissions etc; charges made for attendance by safety personnel (provided that
such personnel play no direct role in the mission); legal costs; medical costs; insurance costs;
fines, penalties or loss of earnings arising from any cause whether prior to, during or after the
mission; travel costs of people associated with the mission.
Contact the organisers at info@n-prize.com

13. Currency Conversion Expenditure in foreign currencies will be converted to £UKstg, based on the exchange rate
published in the London Financial Times on the day the entrant first registers for the N-Prize (see
'How to Enter'). Please note that the prize itself will be paid only in UK pounds sterling.
14. Use of 'Salvaged' and Donated Items
Entrants are encouraged to make imaginative use of items that are salvaged, recycled, donated
etc, provided this is within the spirit of the N-Prize Challenge. Broadly, it should be possible for
any skilled person to replicate your entry for the same budget and with the same amount of luck
and negotiating skills. So, for example, using a discarded mobile phone as part of the telemetry
equipment, or the tube from a vacuum cleaner as part of a rocket nozzle, are acceptable. On the
other hand, using a complete rocket assembly from a satellite launch system, bought as scrap
from a close friend at NASA for $10, would not be considered acceptable. Donations of
hardware will be judged on a case-by-case basis. If your neighbour gives you five metres of
surplus electrical cable, that's fine. If a local machine shop custom builds a complete rocket
casing and 'gives' it to you in exchange for a little publicity, that's less likely to be acceptable.
Entrants are strongly advised to contact the organisers to confirm that they are remaining within
the rules and spirit of the N-Prize Challenge.
Contact the organisers at info@n-prize.com

Licenses too. (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824239)

You would also have to add in the cost of a launch license [gpoaccess.gov] add in the cost to make it safe enough to launch, no way would 10,000 be enough. Of course thats in the US, not sure what it is for Europe. Maybe they don't care if people try to launch several small "missile" like rockets that can reach orbital velocity.

Space spam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824611)

between 9.99 and 19.99 grams for £999.99?

Are they trying to design the next generation in spamming?

Couldn't make the limits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824641)

I have a nanosat design ready to send to fabrication, it even does something useful.

But it wouldn't win this prize as the satellite masses only 8 grams. Bollocks.

Payload Limit (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824681)

The whole satellite, including payload, has to weigh between 10 and 20 grams? Unless you have some mad desire to put a politician's brain in orbit, what the hell good is that?

Terrrrrrism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824745)

...Mr Bin-Laden would like to sponsor a smilar contest, to launch a 19 gram sarin gas capsule. The rules require only half an orbit.

Bush's brain (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824787)

I can't prove it, but King George's brain has been in orbit for the last 6-8 years. It's a bit under the minimum weight requirements, but it's still there.

BIZNATCh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23824797)

Developers a way 7o spend Would like to

P-Prize (1)

VisceralLogic (911294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23824927)

Folks, this is to announce I have just founded a "P-Prize". The award is $1000 to anyone who can launch a satellite no larger than 5 mg to orbit the earth 50 times, on a budget of less than $100 dollars. So... when does the publicity start?
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