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Launch Your Own Picosatellite

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the interesting-idea dept.

Space 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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126 comments

Re:A Better Idea (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 13 years ago | (#439041)

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 --

Re:One Click (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 13 years ago | (#439042)

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.)

Kierthos

Re:Our College's Microsatellite (1)

DCMonkey (615) | more than 13 years ago | (#439043)

Cool! Its good to see other schools working on these projects. Our project [psyber.com] 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 [psyber.com] are my handiwork :)

Re:Cubesats are whack (1)

ghoti (60903) | more than 13 years ago | (#439044)

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.

That's commercialism for you... (1)

Steeltoe (98226) | more than 13 years ago | (#439045)

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

Acme Rockets ? (3)

Alistair Graham (254201) | more than 13 years ago | (#439046)

Was http://www.osss.com/ formally Acme Rockets ? why would i spend $50 000 and still not catch that Road Runner ?

2101, a space odyssey (4)

3Suns (250606) | more than 13 years ago | (#439047)

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)

nanosatellite link - SNAP-1 (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 13 years ago | (#439048)

Check the University of Surrey's info on nanosatellites [sstl.co.uk] . SNAP-1 has been doing very nicely by all accounts, breaking some records up there. More info at Space Daily [spacedaily.com] .

It won't work. (1)

smolix (133533) | more than 13 years ago | (#439050)

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.

Re:A Better Idea (2)

mojo-raisin (223411) | more than 13 years ago | (#439051)

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.

Strange (3)

ssimpson (133662) | more than 13 years ago | (#439052)

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 ;)

Re:Our College's Microsatellite (1)

Nickoty (313029) | more than 13 years ago | (#439053)

why imperial units? Isn't that unusual for that kind of a project?

Re:I know what I am sending (2)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 13 years ago | (#439054)

Just break it apart and reassemble it. It works pretty well and you can fool people into thinking you're some kind of genius.

--

Re:Launch Costs (1)

whanau (315267) | more than 13 years ago | (#439055)

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

evidence (1)

shy (108614) | more than 13 years ago | (#439057)

This sounds like a good way for people to get rid of all sorts of evidence from crimes.

That would be the excuse MS and RIAA used... (1)

Nickoty (313029) | more than 13 years ago | (#439058)

to get themself a nuclear-powered laser weapon system. Great idea!

Shotgun... (2)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 13 years ago | (#439059)

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...

OT: Correction... (1)

m0nkeyb0y (80581) | more than 13 years ago | (#439060)

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....

Mac vs Shuttle (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 13 years ago | (#439061)

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?

Re:Little Borg Cubes? (1)

Alan (347) | more than 13 years ago | (#439062)

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.

Micro com sats? (2)

tbo (35008) | more than 13 years ago | (#439068)

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.

More trash... (1)

zique (30055) | more than 13 years ago | (#439070)

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

Don't forget Arliss .... (2)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#439074)

Don't forget Arliss [stanford.edu] 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

They're not going to be there for long... (1)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 13 years ago | (#439075)

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. :)

Someone should... (1)

Coventry (3779) | more than 13 years ago | (#439077)

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...

Misplaced concern (1)

ishrat (235467) | more than 13 years ago | (#439079)

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.

Great, MORE space junk (1)

SirFlakey (237855) | more than 13 years ago | (#439081)

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.
--

Re:Not as Goofy as it Sounds. (2)

grammar nazi (197303) | more than 13 years ago | (#439083)

Here's a link to Taylor University Dept. of Systems and Controls Satellite project [bonsaikitten.com] . 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.

Re:Implications (1)

belroth (103586) | more than 13 years ago | (#439084)

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?
----

Re:Oh, this seems like a good idea... (1)

belroth (103586) | more than 13 years ago | (#439086)

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
----

G4 Cube (1)

Spoh (241279) | more than 13 years ago | (#439087)

Anyone happen to know if the G4 Cube satellite guy mentioned a while ago has taken any notice?

our own personal Star Wars Defence System (1)

GNUCyberKat (62503) | more than 13 years ago | (#439088)

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!

I'll do it for $25,000 (2)

Bad_CRC (137146) | more than 13 years ago | (#439090)

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?

________

Great, what do you think will happen? (2)

sirinek (41507) | more than 13 years ago | (#439091)

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

siri

Headline form the year: 2040 (1)

RexRuther (221243) | more than 13 years ago | (#439092)

...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...

That's it... (3)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 13 years ago | (#439093)

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...

Something Useful (2)

Peridriga (308995) | more than 13 years ago | (#439094)

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

Re:Great, what do you think will happen? (2)

ghoti (60903) | more than 13 years ago | (#439096)

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.

OSSS - CAST (1)

BoyPlankton (93817) | more than 13 years ago | (#439097)

I used to work for these guys. They're totally serious. I worked for them as they were starting to incorporate. OSSS [osss.com] is a technology transfer company that was made to license and sell the technology that was developed at the Center for Aerospace Technology [slashdot.org] at Weber State University [weber.edu] . 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.

Now, where do I get a miniuature dvd player.. (1)

RAruler (11862) | more than 13 years ago | (#439098)

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.

---

Great price (3)

Xenopax (238094) | more than 13 years ago | (#439099)

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.

Re:Our College's Microsatellite (1)

DCMonkey (615) | more than 13 years ago | (#439100)

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 :).

A holier place to immerse the ashes (1)

ishrat (235467) | more than 13 years ago | (#439102)

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.

The Cascade (2)

bonoboy (98001) | more than 13 years ago | (#439104)

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..... (1)

phoem (151397) | more than 13 years ago | (#439105)

NASA has enough problems already i wonder how many shuttles we will lose because they get pummeled by clusters of 10 centimeter cubes?

Re:Little Borg Cubes? (1)

RealUlli (1365) | more than 13 years ago | (#439107)

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. :-)

Ulli

COKE ADDS LIFE (4)

mr_burns (13129) | more than 13 years ago | (#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"

One Click (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#439109)

I wonder if you could fit a baby in one of those...

Yet more debris in LEO... (1)

CSC (31551) | more than 13 years ago | (#439111)

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?

Our College's Microsatellite (4)

baywulf (214371) | more than 13 years ago | (#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 [sjsu.edu]

In related news. . . (2)

Bastian (66383) | more than 13 years ago | (#439113)

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."

I wish I could send up a few... (1)

LetsRiot! (314931) | more than 13 years ago | (#439114)

LetsRiot! stickers. It would be nice to know they are in space, as well as in bathrooms accross the nation =)

Re:The Cascade (3)

cperciva (102828) | more than 13 years ago | (#439115)

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.

Implications (2)

Bob_the_Cannibal (265055) | more than 13 years ago | (#439117)

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...

Re:The Cascade (2)

Bluesee (173416) | more than 13 years ago | (#439118)

An interesting point. I looked up (yahoo search "Cascade space junk orbit") and found this article [theatlantic.com] 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!

The is (was) a glove in orbit (1)

upper (373) | more than 13 years ago | (#439119)

from http://sn-callisto.jsc.nasa.gov/newsletter/v4i1/v4 i1.html [nasa.gov] :

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.

More trash to get in the way... (1)

Grei (69192) | more than 13 years ago | (#439120)

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?

Grei

Re:Great, what do you think will happen? (2)

macpeep (36699) | more than 13 years ago | (#439121)

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.

obligatory comment (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#439122)

can you imagine a beowulf cl... uhm.

nevermind.

lets send garbage into space (2)

yulek (202118) | more than 13 years ago | (#439123)

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

Re:Someone should... (1)

whanau (315267) | more than 13 years ago | (#439124)

The big deal is, why the fuck would someone want to download win2k or IIS?

Re:I know what I am sending (2)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 13 years ago | (#439125)

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.

--

PicoSats are old hat (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 13 years ago | (#439127)

Amteur Radio operators have been launching small satellites for decades. We have a worldwide volunteer group called AMSAT [amsat.org] 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.

Holding my breath. (1)

feder (307335) | more than 13 years ago | (#439129)

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.

Re:What is this "enter the atmosphere"? (1)

ghoti (60903) | more than 13 years ago | (#439131)

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.

Re:The Cascade (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 13 years ago | (#439135)

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).

Now, I'm not saying there's a lot of crap up in orbit that doesn't need to be there. There is. I doubt this midget satellites will help any. However, if they are in a low earth orbit then they will fall back to earth after too long or need to get picked up before they fall back to earth.

This leads me to believe that this will be used more by the "idle rich" and larger companies that can afford to waste fifty large on experiments that require micro-gravity. Now, mind you, I wouldn't mind being able to do this myself, but I tend to think I could spend the money much better then on a one-shot satellite...

Kierthos

2.2 pounds in space??? (1)

popular (301484) | more than 13 years ago | (#439137)

I was all excited. Man, for $50K I could launch something pretty huge that would weigh only 2.2 pounds in space!

Ahh crap -- it's in kilos. You non USians have that annoying gravity agnostic measurement system...

--

Not as Goofy as it Sounds. (1)

nemesisj (305482) | more than 13 years ago | (#439140)

My university (Taylor University) is involved in the designing and deployment of a small communications satelite based on the cubesat approach. From what I can understand, most projects involving cubesats are made up of several cubes (ours will use 6). Space junk concerns aside, I think that cubesat is a cool opportunity for schools. Where else can an undergraduate get experience in designing (both hardware and software) and deploying a real satelite?

Cubesats are whack (1)

cygnus (17101) | more than 13 years ago | (#439142)

i attended a press conference about this. a couple of strange things about them: a. 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. b. the CEO of the company or whatever advocated buying one for the purposes of launching one's medical records into space along with a transmitter, so that if one were on safari and ill, a doctor could use a rudimentary receiver pointed at the sat when it passed over to retreive them. faster than postal mail, slower than JUST BRINGING YOUR G'DAMN RECORDS WITH YOU! or the Internet....

Low earth orbit? (3)

Fervent (178271) | more than 13 years ago | (#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...

Little Borg Cubes? (4)

Digitalia (127982) | more than 13 years ago | (#439146)

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.

A Better Idea (3)

Wag (102501) | more than 13 years ago | (#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?

Oh, this seems like a good idea... (3)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 13 years ago | (#439148)

...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... :)

Re:Implications (1)

brassman (112558) | more than 13 years ago | (#439150)

SDI weapons?

Won't need 'em with this plan -- too many borglets in the way for any "rogue states" to launch an ICBM.

Re:Little Borg Cubes? (1)

pen (7191) | more than 13 years ago | (#439151)

Since when is it customary for people to plan for the future? We've never done it in the past, and I doubt that we're about to start now. Act now, worry later has always been the motto.

Heads in the cooler. (2)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 13 years ago | (#439152)

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

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

Rami
--

Perfect size for a bonzaikitten! (1)

twivel (89696) | more than 13 years ago | (#439153)

Or, even better - a great place to stuff the FBI agents who are investigating the bonzaikitten website.
--
Twivel

Re:COKE ADDS LIFE (1)

dorward (129628) | more than 13 years ago | (#439154)

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"

Make sure only good translators get to see it. Possibly just an Urban Legend I remember one translation to Chinese came out as "Class A drugs will bring your ancestors back from the dead."

Re:Another Skylab? (1)

whanau (315267) | more than 13 years ago | (#439157)

There is a big difference. The skylab was big, therefore some of it was able to survive reentry. These little sats would just make some cool looking meteor shower type effects

Another Skylab? (1)

Carbonate (13973) | more than 13 years ago | (#439162)

So one day the rocket goes up it deploys thousands of these little buggers for 50K a pop. Then there is a problem. They are deployed at the wrong time. Suddenly a major catastrophe is on it's way. hundreds of little cubes are going to start raining down on earth (ala Skylab). Sure some might burn up in the atmosphere but Should we really be forgetting that "What comes up must come down". Personally I'd hate to see little mini cubes falling from the sky and smashing into a heavily populated metropolis

This concerns me (1)

andrewtea (208706) | more than 13 years ago | (#439164)

It kind of bothers me that just about anyone can stick what ever crap they want into space these days. I really dont think we need beloved fido's ashes whipping around the earth, waiting to do damage to something useful.
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