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13 Pico-Satellites to Launch June 28th

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the pico-boo dept.

Education 98

leighklotz writes "The CalPoly CubeSat Program announced a launch date for its 13 amateur satellites: June 28, 2006 at 19:39:11Z, from the Kazakstan Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Russian DNEPR-1LV rocket. The satellites are made from a kit, and are 10cm cubes." Read on for more info, including links to many of the individual satellite projects.

leighklotz continues: "There are also pictures of 14 satellites and info about some of them:

These folks have a list of ongoing CubeSat projects. And as always AMSAT is a good organization to join if you have any interest in using or building your own satellites."

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Cheap is in the eye of the beholder (2, Interesting)

IntelliAdmin (941633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440124)

Wow. After looking through their price sheet it looks like you could build your own cubesat for about $20,000 US. I guess inexpensive is a relative term - still really cheap compared to the prices of a regular satellite. I wonder how much it costs them to get it up in the air.

Windows Admin Tools [intelliadmin.com]

Re:Cheap is in the eye of the beholder (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440190)

TFA says: 10 cm cubes.

You just throw them really hard.

Or use a slingshot.

Re:Cheap is in the eye of the beholder (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440204)

when anyone says "Item X is inexpensive" they mean cmpared to other item Xes.

Re:Cheap is in the eye of the beholder (2, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440391)

. . .about $20,000 US. I guess inexpensive is a relative term. . .

$20,000 is where "cheap" ends in the violin market. The sort of thing you might send your kid to college with, or have made as a "cheap" copy of your "good" violin (a common practice for insurance purposes). I was looking at a mandolin last year that was made in the year I was born, in the city I was born in. It was going for $25,000. Just some bits of carved wood, baroque era tech.

Yes, it's all relative.

KFG

Re:Cheap is in the eye of the beholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15458790)

You are a faggot.

Re:Cheap is in the eye of the beholder (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441020)

According to an article [aura-astronomy.org] in the Denver Post:
"Sending a heavy satellite into orbit costs tens of millions of dollars, or approximately $10,000 a pound."
So, even if these 10cm cubes keep it to one half pound, they're still looking at a $5,000 bill to get it into space. But apparantly, the Bush administration is spending much to find new methods or vehicles to reduce this cost (hopefully soon).

Errr... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15441420)

Isn't anyone else curious as to why the headline mentions 13 sattelites, and the article mentions 14?

Not that I don't expect such things from Slashdot, but... :)

The Magic of Secondary Payloads (2, Informative)

chrisd (1457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441461)

The dnepr costs about #11.7m USD to launch, and it can lift a whole whack of weight to leo, so people like using it (it's cheap compared to other options) and there is often weight allowance left over. Its really cool that they opened this up to students.

Chris

Oh great... (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15442372)

One of the things I learned from Planetes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetes) is that these things have the capacity to kill someone on a shuttle transport in the future. Please consider the shuttle transport passengers of the future!

Re:Cheap is in the eye of the beholder (1)

jwagner95 (978497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15444795)

$20,000 is relatively cheap when you compare that to the $20,000 Rad-hard version of the RCA 1802 (think late 1970s) CPU that is being used in some of the latest AMSAT birds. Besides, as someone mentioned below, none of the CubeSats on the two currently scheduled DNEPR launches are using the cubesat kits and therefore are likely cheaper. For instance, CAPE1 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette which I am currently working on only costs about $8000 in hardware costs (obviously total development costs are more expensive). The total cost per cube is about $40,000 for the two DNEPR launches which is significantly cheaper than a shuttle payload which was around $130,000/kg last time we checked. As a side note, NASA was working on a cheaper US alternative for launching cubesats called the MPE, but in typical NASA fashion killed the project after spending millions and nearing completion.

in Soviet California (1)

runlevel 5 (977409) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440136)

YOU watch satellite

Re: In fascist America (1)

Dan Ferguson (691027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440270)

The satellites watch you!

Sure, he's a popular Pokemon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15440137)

But I've always been a fan of Psyduck myself. I never understood why Pikachu got so much attention, and now he's getting his own satellites.

97.4 degree inclination??? Why? (2, Interesting)

lecithin (745575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440163)

forcasted orbital elements below. Why are they using a 97.43 degree inclination?

P-POD A
1 99999U 06179.82920000 .00000000 00000-0 00000-0 0 00002
2 99999 097.4300 088.0700 0022000 210.1300 328.3600 15.15090000000016

P-POD B
1 99999U 06179.82920000 .00000000 00000-0 00000-0 0 00002
2 99999 097.4300 088.0700 0035000 210.1495 328.6600 15.12640000000013

P-POD C
1 99999U 06179.82920000 .00000000 00000-0 00000-0 0 0000
2 99999 097.4300 088.0700 0048000 210.1537 328.8600 15.10180000000011

P-POD D
1 99999U 06179.82920000 .00000000 00000-0 00000-0 0 00002
2 99999 097.4300 088.0700 0060000 210.1680 329.0500 15.07710000000019

P-POD E
1 99999U 06179.82920000 .00000000 00000-0 00000-0 0 00002
2 99999 097.4300 088.0700 0073000 210.1857 329.2300 15.05210000000012

Re:97.4 degree inclination??? Why? (1)

HavokDevNull (99801) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440312)

I have never studied astrodynamics, and even had to go look up what exactly inclination is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inclination [wikipedia.org]

So why is 97.4 degree Inclination bad, good, or are you just asking?

Re:97.4 degree inclination??? Why? (5, Informative)

rijrunner (263757) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440321)

That is a sun synchronous orbit. Fairly useful if you are taking photos. Every time you pass over part of your orbit, the shadows will be at the same angle as your previous pass. Much easier to calculate form and height when you always know the relative angle to the sun.

It is also a useful orbit in that it covers the entire planet, including the poles. If you are interested in items, such as global warming and relative ice-pack, you need to use this sort of orbit.

Not sure if any of the sats in this are configured as Amsats, but this high an inclination could even allow people living in the far north and far south some communcation relay capability.

Re:97.4 degree inclination??? Why? (1)

twostar (675002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440917)

that's exactly it. With all the schools all over the place they need to make passes over each one. Plus it was where the launch was going. Secondary payloads don't get to make big decisions like where they go into orbit.

Re:97.4 degree inclination??? Why? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15441472)

97.4 is by far superior because due to the inverse trajectory of the compulsory ôrgincology. The only other possible inclination that would maximize the inverse trignopoly would be c h a 7 7 3 n ger

Re:97.4 degree inclination??? Why? (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15442690)

Why are they using a 97.43 degree inclination?
Most likely because that's the orbit the real payload is going into - hitchikers (like these picosats) can rarely afford to be choosy.

Involvement and Interest (3, Interesting)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440165)

It's always interesting to see space stuff done on a smaller scale. In some ways, it's almost more interesting. For example, while the ISS is cool, chucking a spacesuit out of the airlock to make an impromptu satellite was satisfying on some other level than I usually find, say, the latest Hubble shot. There's probably some key insight here, but I'm too tired to actually engage my brain more fully.

Oh man. Gene Ray is gonna go *nuts* (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440189)

Just what we need. Just one look at those pictures... the non-anti-aliased pictures of the CubeSats...

...can't resist... Brain failing...

The 10x10x10cm, 1kg CubeSat standard... musn't look at pictures. Mustn't - NO! P-POD Allocations for Dnepr L1 campaign is thinking inside the box! Initial Cubesat cluster velocity magnitude measured in thousands of meters per second! CubeSat projects have the potential to educate cubeless participants and implement successful harmonic simultaneous time cube! [timecube.com]

Re:Oh man. Gene Ray is gonna go *nuts* (0, Offtopic)

martinX (672498) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440645)

DO YOU KNOW NOTHING!
-1 x -1= +1 is WRONG, it is academic stupidity and is evil. The educated stupid should acknowledge the natural antipodes of +1 x +1 = +1 and -1 x -1 = -1 exist as plus and minus values of opposite creation - depicted by opposite sexes and opposite hemispheres. Entity is death worship - for it cancels opposites. I have invested 30 years of my life and over 1/4 millions dollars researching Nature's 4 - simultaneous 24 hour days within a single rotation of Earth.

They're not satellites... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441047)

...they are MIRV warheads. RUN!

Purchase? (1)

cosmotron (900510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440194)

I went to their website but, I can't seem to find any places to buy these. I found a price list, but no distributors... Any help?

Re:Purchase? (1)

twostar (675002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440932)

look for cubesat kit on google. They're kit is pretty decent for Highschool and other's without the production capabilities.

Re:Purchase? (1)

jwagner95 (978497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15444873)

I think you have to contact them directly. Pumpkin, Inc. [cubesatkit.com] I think the guy's name is Andrew but I don't remember for sure. I wasn't able to make the CubeSat workshop a few weeks ago, but he's usually there. The next one is in August, coinciding with SmallSat [smallsat.org] .

And were a smashing success until (2, Funny)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440201)

they were swallowed by small dog.

Trashing Space has never been this cheap! (0)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440246)

"The LEO [wikipedia.org] environment is becoming congested, not least with space debris. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks more than 8,000 objects larger than 10cm in LEO."

And then there were thirteen more...

Re:Trashing Space has never been this cheap! (1)

Roduku (950552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441765)

I wonder how many will end up as orbital roadkill.

Maybe there should be a sign that says "Picosat Crossing".

Re:Trashing Space has never been this cheap! (1)

twostar (675002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15442349)

If you make it I'm sure more then a few developers might buy it.

I love Pico (5, Funny)

pharwell (854602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440275)

Pico-satellites are way better than Vi-satellites or Emacs-satellites.

Gah! Troll...quick stop him! (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440369)

Maybe if you're talking first year introduction to satellites classes. As every real astrophysicist knows, however, the only way to crank out cubesats ahead of deadlines in the competitive world is to use a .SAT development environment.

Re:I love Pico (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440763)

So, when are we going to see a cube shrink so I can have my Nano-Satellites?

yeah but the real question is (2, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440838)

do these satellites run pico/Linux?

Re:yeah but the real question is (1)

jwagner95 (978497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15444413)

Some universities are actually developing satellites with embedded linux systems, but I'm not sure about any of the ones on the current launch.

Re:I love Pico (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15447450)

Emacs-satellites are much easier than pico-satellites to track in orbit, since they're the size of a small moon.

Re:I love Pico (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15448516)

That's no moon...

Hardly Pico (2, Insightful)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440286)

10cm across, these aren't even micro.

Re:Hardly Pico (1)

srite (940633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440951)

They will be when you are seeing them from earth after they are in orbit

Pico satellite is a satellite size (3, Informative)

twostar (675002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441163)

Large satellite >1000kg
Medium sized satellite 500-1000kg
Mini satellite 100-500kg Small Satellites
Micro satellite 10-100kg
Nano satellite 1-10kg
Pico satellite 0.1-1kg
Femto satellite Smart dust - one cubic millimeter
from the bottom of this article: http://www.pythom.com/news.php?id=1964 [pythom.com]

I for one.. (1)

Skythe (921438) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440355)

ION is... The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's first student-developed satellite The first satellite completely developed in the state of Illinois ...as far as we know A fully independent spacecraft A double CubeSat (smaller than a shoebox at 4" x 4" x 8") Launching from Baikonur, Kazakhstan using the Russian DNEPR-1 launch vehicle, a converted ICBM

..welcome our prolific, nuclear-capable overlords!

They are sure not afraid of magic (3, Funny)

Axe (11122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440394)

13 sattelites on board of a "Satan" rocket. They should have scheduled the launch on July 6, 2006. 06/06/06.

Re:They are sure not afraid of magic (1)

Russ Steffen (263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440438)

You, sir, use a very strange calendar.

Re:They are sure not afraid of magic (2, Informative)

stoutstreet (95533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440776)

not in Base 0 calendar

Re:They are sure not afraid of magic (1)

ssk77077 (855702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440448)

They should bump up the launch date to 6-6-06

Re:They are sure not afraid of magic (1)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440663)

You mean June...

Re:They are sure not afraid of magic (1)

Axe (11122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15458698)

Yes, I do.

PSSSSsssttt (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440855)

July is the 7th month

Re:PSSSSsssttt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15442992)

In the C library, months are counted from 0.

Re:They are sure not afraid of magic (1)

laslo2 (51210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441234)

Let's hope your sense of dates like 6/6/06 (which, according to Gregory, is June 6, 2006) doesn't translate into any magick you try to do on that date. The way you're going you'll turn yourself into a hermaphroditic grue and end up floating in space with one of those pico satellites.

Which... may not be a bad thing... ;)

Re:They are sure not afraid of magic (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441871)

That would be June 6th, but that would just raise too much suspicion, especially once people find out the cubes look like this [propstore.com] .

Re:They are sure not afraid of magic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15442439)

And NASA aren't superstitious either. They even numbered one of their missions Apollo *13* and nothing happened to...err...never mind.

So what is the purpose? (4, Insightful)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440421)

I briefly looked at some of the sats going up and I can't see what the point of them is. Just send them up and see if you can read the beacon? What's the point? We already know we can do that. Send back some data on system status and such? WTF?

As an amateur operator myself I would like to see something useful up there instead of more junk. Cameras, telescopes, sensors, repeaters, or something even more useful that the students come up with. I mean if you're going through all the expense at least put some creative effort into it.

Re:So what is the purpose? (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440732)

building working space hardware is difficult. You may think that getting that robot ready for the wars is difficult, but that is nothing when compared to creating hardware that can survive launch, insertion, and LEO enviroment, much less produce useful results.

We see in the sheer ignorance of the average person when our president says we will have happy moon bases in a few years, or when others say manned space travel is unneccesary, or the space station is just a waste. Space is generally beyond our compreshension and outside of common experience. We will always insert assumptions in our design, assumption that come from real expereince, and those assumption will cost us missions. The only way to conteract those assumption is through experience. Expensive, time consuming, fustrating, with no monetary profit, experience.

And this is why such project are so important. Space develop is generally stagnant because most of the people who have real experience are old. How many people under thirty do you know that have build a sattilite? How do we expect to explore space if the only people with space experience are locked up in government laboratories?

People complain tha all NASA does is PR stuff. Then someone tries to do real space work, for the sole purpose of building experience in space, and created authentic human experience, the same people complain it is a waste of money. Most of what every engineer does in school is a waste of money. It has mostly been done before. But before we can shoot a person to mars, someone has to have launched a little sattilite in orbit. As a person who build rockets since childhood, and had the opportunity to work on a sattilite, I can tell you that no matter how little the sattilite actually did, the exeperience is invaluable. And if we are going to have a working space program, we have to college kids the opportunity to work on real space hardware. Otherwise we can just shut down the space program, which, of course, is what a lot of people want. More money to kill them foreners, ya know.

Re:So what is the purpose? (2, Insightful)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441275)

Yeah but this is like being in automotive engineering class and building a modern car with wooden wheels. The students need the experience of building a car but we already have vast knowledge on how to build a car. Since they are starting with a huge base of knowledge, at least make it functional otherwise the experience is lacking.

In other words, we already have the technology (modern tires in my example), why not use it and create something that is at least partly useful?

I'm not complaining about students getting experience. I'm complaining that we're talking about a huge opportunity not being fully taken advantage of. The hard part and expense is in the transport up to space, not the satellite. Although satellites are certainly not trivial, we have the experience and technology to make them useful relatively easily.

I mean, doing something more complex than a beacon would be useful experience in learning to create remote probes, robots, and all sorts of stuff. Even if they failed it would be good experience. Beacons are not that useful.

Re:So what is the purpose? (2, Insightful)

twostar (675002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441345)

actually most of the industry doesn't believe you can make a satellite this small useful. I saw many people tell us it was impossible to put a fully redundant 430Mhz transceiver and the complete CDH on a 4"x4" board. That's about the time we would hand the board to them and point to the other board with the antenna and power hooked up and transmitting at that time.

Also, almost every CubeSat runs on batteries that have never been space qualified or flow before. Most of the components are not "space qualified" because they don't want to radiation harden them. CubeSats are set to prove you don't need all that extra crap. Just design them well, design them to recover from events, and build them at a fraction of the cost of the specialty stuff.

Re:So what is the purpose? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15442720)

actually most of the industry doesn't believe you can make a satellite this small useful.
And there's nothing in this batch of birds to change that belief.
Also, almost every CubeSat runs on batteries that have never been space qualified or flow before. Most of the components are not "space qualified" because they don't want to radiation harden them. CubeSats are set to prove you don't need all that extra crap.
That would be an interesting proof - given that it runs against decades of experience covering hundreds (thousands?) of birds and millions (billions?) of operating hours.
Just design them well, design them to recover from events, and build them at a fraction of the cost of the specialty stuff.
Anyone can build science fair level stuff for a fraction of the cost of the real thing - and that's all these CubeSats are when compared to the 'specialty stuff'.

Re:So what is the purpose? (1)

jwagner95 (978497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15445068)

As twostar stated, most of industry didn't originally see this form-factor as viable. Building a satellite in this small of a package is ridiculously challenging—it is actually easier to build a larger satellite, because there is more power, more physical space, etc. The reason many of these satellites are only diagnostic telemetry is the satellite itself is the payload. For instance, CAPE1 (riding on the next launch) is primarily focused on building the vehicle for a more sophisticated payload in CAPE2 (not yet in development). Even still we should have the ability to monitor buoys in the Gulf of Mexico monitoring coastal erosion by relaying the data to earth stations around the world. All this at a much cheaper rate than the current methods of using cellular technology or even renting on a commercial satellite.

Re:So what is the purpose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15469454)

The lack of creativity shown in the first sentence indicates that you likely have no idea of the complications of manufacturing, deployment, and real world use.

If the automotive class is primarily interested in the improving the effeciency of an engine, what do the tires matter? If the class is primarily interested in creating a list of the parts of car, then creating algorithms to schedule thier JUT delivery, what does if matter what the components are made of, or if they exist at all? If the class was to determine the aerodynamic properties of different wheel configurations, and the class did not hav access to a metal shop, might wood be good enough for them to learn how cetain wheels move through the air?

Few enough people can actually get hardware to survive launch and function properly. If a group of students can do so, that is remarkable. If they can do so in an extremely small package, that is doubly remarkable. The function of the package is kind of irrelevent. It is the fact that package functions at all.

Re:So what is the purpose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15441549)

I am not going to take up some sort of luddite position, but do you really see it as billions for space research versus billions for war?

Ignoring the many positive things that can be done throughout the world, the United States - like most modern societies - has many places where capital can be used positively. Health care, energy research and the retooling of industry to meet modern energy realities, biomedical research, education, poverty cycles, and, I am sure, more.
The funny thing is that these are usually largely given to the market to deal with.

It is a little insane to leave whether or not your grandad can get palliative pain relief to market forces whilst bending your countries financial will toward flinging transistor radios into low earth orbit.

Make sure your people are happy, healthy and suitably prosperous. Look to your future and prepare for the problems yet to come. Consider the wellbeing of your friends and neighbours and help where you feel you can, comenserate with the will and values of the people you represent.

THEN explore space any way you see fit and, if there be any, reap the rewards - real, intellectual or spiritual.

Maybe people see this sort of work as a waste (along with other expensive activities SUCH AS war) because these basics arent being done yet.

Re:So what is the purpose? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15442742)

And this is why such project are so important. Space develop is generally stagnant because most of the people who have real experience are old.
Except that space development isn't stagnant.
How many people under thirty do you know that have build a sattilite?
These birds are to commercial satellite construction as a balsa wood airplane is to Boeing.

Re:So what is the purpose? (1)

jwagner95 (978497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15445142)

These birds are to commercial satellite construction as a balsa wood airplane is to Boeing.

Yet, Burt Rattan (of SpaceShipOne fame), who started in balsa wood airplane building/design and who hires mostly balsa wood airplane builders*, is building more innovative space vehicles than Boeing.

From a recent AMA (Academy Of Model Aeronautics) magazine interview.

Re:So what is the purpose? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15441188)

I am one of the designers of the Illinois ION satellite. Part of the purpose of these projects is to give students an opportunity to do space applications, not easy to come by at most universities. Also, most satellites *do* have actual functions. Some take data for university research, and some test out new concepts in space engineering. There are uses for these things, its more than orbital litter.

Re:So what is the purpose? (1)

kmccabe (978392) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441214)

As educational projects, a lot of these groups (specifically the Cal Poly CPx crew) are focused primarily on giving students hands-on experience with actually researching, designing, building, testing, and (finally) operating a fully functional spacecraft. However, each satellite generally has a fairly significant payload; they're not "just junk".

For an example, check out the guys at Tokyo University; they've launched two cubesats now, one on the 2003 launch and one recently on SSETI (XV-IV and XV-V, respectively). They've got cameras on both--you can check out the pictures here: http://www.space.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/cubesat/index-e.h tml [u-tokyo.ac.jp]

Re:So what is the purpose? (1)

twostar (675002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441287)

You can't just say, "Ok guys, you've been studying in school and all know F=ma. Now make something that goes to the moon." You have to start small, train people in real world situations and grow on that. With this kind of project you get to go from initial team formation, to Preliminary design, to detailed design, to production, to integration and test, to operations all in a matter of a single college career. No one has ever had that chance or capability until now. Now you are bringing in engineers from all over the spectrum and getting them excited about space and a career they would have never considered before.

Once we have hundreds of these junk in LEO I'll be happy, because then those who built them will be getting bored with little satellites and looking forward to build something that goes beyond that.

If you go through the satellite's web sites you'll see many are flying fairly interesting payloads, I don't think any of them are just a beacon. Montana built their own Geiger counter and is going to record the radiation levels in orbit. God forbid someone put something in orbit you have no interest in.

Re:So what is the purpose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15441309)

With this kind of project you get to go from initial team formation, to Preliminary design, to detailed design, to production, to integration and test, to operations all in a matter of a single college career.

You can do all that without putting it into space.

I think the OP is saying that since these will actually be going into space at significant expense they should at least attempt to carry something useful. Geiger counter and such is what he was talking about so he probably didn't RTFA close enough.

Re:So what is the purpose? (1)

twostar (675002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441441)

You really can't do all that without going into space.

If you "design" it to go into space all the while knowing it won't, you really won't take all the steps necessary to ensure survivability. Whenever you prepare for major events, design reviews, system reviews, prelaunch reviews, you always find tons of things that need fixing or work. The reason? You're putting real money out to make it happen and you don't want to be the one responsible for the failure of the mission.

Put it into programming terms, how much work did you do for normal programming homework during college? Now how much work do you do before a review of your code/system/whatever before releasing it or publishing it?

I've got that experience now and it's not a "I designed a satellite for a class" but a "I designed a satellite and it's in orbit operating right now". All that, and I'm just now graduating.

Calling all mods - OP didn't RTFL... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441382)

Obviously you didn't put much effort into figuring out what these satellites do.

For example, if you click on Cornell's ICE CubeSat, it takes you to the AMSAT info page for the sat, which has a link to Cornell's own page for the sat, which has LOTS of details on the design of the sat, and more importantly, the science package the sat is carrying. Most of the other university sats are also carrying some sort of science package (most of them are cameras I believe, but I'm not sure.)

To summarize it in basic terms, the Cornell ICE Cube is designed to take measurements of ionospheric phenomenon that have been causing problems with the GPS system in certain parts of the world at certain times. The phenomenon is known as scintillation and causes rapid fluctuations in the signal strength of GPS signals reaching the ground. ICE Cube is meant to take measurements of such phenomenon at high altitudes, eliminating any effects the lower layers of the atmosphere might have on the signal.

This is all assuming that the comm system works... I designed the first revision of the onboard transciever and I admit I didn't do the best job due to lack of time/experience. (I was a senior with only one semester to work on it.) From what I've heard the grad students assigned to clean up my mess did a pretty good job though. :)

Re:So what is the purpose? (1)

RafaelGCPP (922041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15443111)

Read TFA... Or TF-Sattelite-Description

ION's missions include...

  • Measuring molecular oxygen airglow emissions in the Earth's mesosphere
  • Performing the first space test of Alameda's micro-vacuum arc thrusters
  • Performing the first space test of Tether Application's SID processor board
  • Performing Earth imaging using a CMOS camera
  • Demonstrating attitude stabilization on a CubeSat

ION has a lot of sensors. Also, they are a wonderful learning tool for engineers, since it is not that easy to make an electronic circuit to live out in space, where radiation can fry it!

Re:So what is the purpose? (1)

CRMeatball (964998) | more than 8 years ago | (#15444477)

The purpose of creating these small university satellites is to provide a pathway for students to enter this field. Since the early 1970's, very few engineers have entered the space industry, so now, 30 years later, the workforce is getting older and older. Being a program manager of a university small satellite program, I commend the students for having built operational satellites. It is not an easy task. The requirements for building a space worthy device are far more stringent than for something that remains here, even the software. And on top of that, they are launching on a Russian vehicle, so they had to wade through the deep waters of ITAR and so forth to even get a launch. Students are still very new at this sort of thing, and often start out with very ambious goals. As they learn, often those goals are descoped. Being very familiar with this process, I assure you, while the end product may not be the sexiest thing ever launched, but the experince those students gained in getting there is priceless.

Impact (2, Insightful)

dark grep (766587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440614)

Very good, a bunch of unstearable, 10cm objects traveling at orbital velocity, that will be all but undetectable when their batteries run down. I think about 20cm of steel plate would stop one - or several astronauts in line.

Re:Impact (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440700)

did you look at their orbits at all?

Re:Impact (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15443084)

They can be tracked by DoD space surveillance radar systems.

fuck off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15443597)

surprise surprise, some pointless snivelling cunt on slashdot feels qualified to sneer at a project he knows nothing about except what he read in "TFA" if he even read that.

I'm sure the team of highly qualified scientists and aerospace experts that put this involved and complex undertaking together have of course made a catalogue of schoolboy errors that justifies the obligatory torrent of ineffectual and ill informed wieners picking "insightful" holes in the concept and execution, by employing idle speculation and a few insignificant fragments of knowledge about something that is way beyond their ability to execute any better than the people they are sneering at.

Re:fuck off (1)

dark grep (766587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15449687)

I am sure you are completely right. No scientist has ever made a mistake and everything NASA has ever done has been a complete success and perfect in every way. Just like you really.

Re:fuck off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15452276)

And you're qualified to correct those mistakes are you? Send them your resume as fast as you can. you might avert the next shuttle disaster with casual observations, you never know they might have done something like forgot to fit a door in the airlock.

Re:Impact (1)

White Yeti (927387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447165)

A quick check shows they'll all reenter within (at most) 5 to 15 years, which is within the usual safety standards. See some related NASA [nasa.gov] materials.

Satellite vs. Wireless? (1)

informatico (978356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440649)

You hear about companies such as Google thinking about going wireless here [com.com] and here [msn.com] . I wonder if satellite would be a cheaper alternative instead?

I might even buy one to broad cast my own TV channels and music out there ;), me or even copyleft groups like CreativeCommons can some and then take the media companies by storm.

Re:Satellite vs. Wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15441653)

latency

Great... (0, Flamebait)

Digital_Mercenary (136288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440668)

Great... Thank you very much... More junk in space...
This is what the best and brightest could come up with?
How about getting us back to earths natural satellite,
the moon.

"I'm all for general research, I just wish it had a general direction."
-DML

UFO - Footage from Space Shuttle (1)

Chemkook (915402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440676)



I would love to launch one of those babies with Wifi and a Webcam.

You could probably get better footage of what NASA is releasing to the public.

Skeptical?

Watch this!

http://tinyurl.com/eslxh

GA! Stop with the satellites! (1)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440683)

Damnit! This is the last thing I need. It used to be just governments I had to worry about. Now it could be universities, small companies, even people with reasonably deep pockets! I'm running out of tinfoil to protect my brain from them!

Re:GA! Stop with the satellites! (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15440858)

To steal a bit from Arthur C. Clarke . . . Privacy is one of those things that only works when either everyone has it, or no one does. If everyone had access to their own personal spy satellites then we're all on equal footing. (well . . a little more equal footing, anyway)

Univ. of Arizona Cubesats (3, Informative)

Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441266)

I programmed the University of Arizona cubesats. We actually have two satellites launching from the Cosmodrome this summer. The first is, as the summary notes, called Rincon. It is named for Rincon Research which provided us much of the funding. Rincon Research is in turn named for the mountain range on the East side of Tucson. The other satellite is called SACRED, and, honestly, I can't actually remember what it stands for. I think it's something in French...

The summary is not entirely correct about the construction of the cubesats. Some are indeed made from the kit, but not all. Ours, for example, were completely designed and built at the UA with the exception of the radio transceivers. SACRED also includes an experiment board designed by the Univ. of Montpelier.

Here's a much better link to a page describing the cubesats:

UA Cubesats [arizona.edu]

Some of the other posts have been complaining about the purpose of these cubesats. It's true that they are all very simple. But you have to remember that they were designed and built by students (with faculty help, of course). The UA cubesats have PIC 16F877 microcontrollers on board with 64 KB of ferromagnetic storage memory. So, it's understandable that they will be limited.

The Rincon satellite has twelve sensors which monitor voltage, temperature, and current. These will let us know how well the cubesat is working and hopefully allow us to compute its spin rate. SACRED also has an experiment board which will perform some radiation tests on a few electronic components.

These cubesats (the UA's at least) are more than just beacons, as some posters have suggested. I programmed them, so I'm well aware of their capabilities. They have, for their size, a fairly decent command structure and allow for two-way communication. They take measurements on a schedule (which can be modified) and store the results for later transmission to the ground station in Tucson, Arizona. For the extra curious among you, you can read the cubesat manual I wrote for our project:

Cubesat II Operating System Owner's Manual [arizona.edu]

Re:Univ. of Arizona Cubesats (1)

mellow106 (669136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15445356)

I'll second all those points. As a long-time member of the University of Arizona Cubesat program, I've worked on groundstation code, system integration, and all sorts of field tests. It's been fantastic to work with other students, industry veterans and university faculty. The experience gained has been invaluable, and I give my involvement in the Cubesat program full credit for getting me into grad school and subsequently securing me a job. The goals of these programs are education an fun, and they succeed mightily at that.

Just to set it straight... (1)

kmccabe (978392) | more than 8 years ago | (#15441492)

Just to set the record straight; CubeSats are not normally "built from a kit". There's a CubeSat kit available, but none of the 14 being launched are using it, and none of the 5 satellite on the next DNEPR launch use it. It's a great kit, but it's not the only way CubeSats are made. :)

Errors and Omissions (2, Informative)

leighklotz (192300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15442057)

I'm pleased that so many of the principals involved in the Cubesat program have joined this discussion.

I didn't know that they CubeSat Kits were unrelated to the current activities, but more importantly, I want to apologize for omitting the 14th satellite, MEROPE [montana.edu] from Montana State University. I want to thank Brian Larsen of MSU for pointing this out to me, and I hope Brian joins this discussion.

One thing I learned about all this activity around space, satellites, and its intersection with computer science and other technologies is that at least among people who are skilled enough in all those disciplines to get a satellite into orbit, amateur radio is still interesting. [slashdot.org]

Spon6e (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15442512)

Some Answers (1)

KanxeR Man (732072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15443099)

To answer some of the questions in this thread:

- Yes, $20k is actually cheap to build a satellite, but most of the schools did not buy kits and instead fabricated their sats themselves or bought COTS pieces from different sources.

- 97.4 degree inclination is sun-sync and was not chosen by the schools. The cubesats are piggy-backing on the Russian rocket that has a full-sized foreign bird as a primary payload.

- If you're asking yourself what's the point of a project like this, you've missed the idea completely - the most important being student education. Today kids in elementary schools are learning to program in c to control simple robots, in high school they create teams of controlled and autonomous robots to compete in games, in college they are building satellites. What did YOU do in school? It's insulting to degrade/downplay the significance of putting a working satellite in space and sending data (whether it be a beacon or otherwise) as designed. If it was so easy to do, there wouldn't be billions of dollars worth of failed satellites floating in space or disintegrated into atmospheric dust.

- The altitude these cubes will be at is low enough to eventually decay in some years, so contributing to space debris is (hopefully) not an issue.

- The launch cost was distributed among the schools participating. The rate has changed over time, but at last I recall it was about $40k per 10 cm, 1 kg cube - that's a smokin good deal for putting anything into space.

- One drawback to this piggy-back launch approach is actual launch occurs when the primary payload is complete. Miss the bus and you're walking. Additionally, some of the foreign bird projects get ridiculously delayed. Some of the cubes on this launch had been completed and sat through delay after delay for 2 years.

However this satellite opportunity still can't currently be beat for a low-cost, quick production, high-risk, satellite project.

Re:Some Answers (1)

jwagner95 (978497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15444933)

Very good response.

As far as the piggyback delays are concerned this is extremely appropriate for the two DNEPR launches as this June launch was originally scheduled for October 2004, while the next one was originally October 2005.

Re:Some Answers (1)

kmccabe (978392) | more than 8 years ago | (#15445017)

To be precise about it, the current launch was originally scheduled for October 2005, and is informally called the BelkA launch, due to its primary payload. The other launch, EgyptSat, is currently scheduled for September of this year (after over two years of delays now). The satellites were swapped in order to get the first set of satellites in orbit after such a long wait.

Re:Some Answers (1)

jwagner95 (978497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15445270)

Yes, I realize that I just wasn't sure if that was too much detail for the topic. I'm currently working on Comm for CAPE1 on the second set of CubeSats. In a way, we needed the extra time for proper testing and such. However, there's been speculation that this launch will never leave the ground because of the extensive delays experienced so far (as you said 2 years).

It's kind of funny since we were hoping to see how well some of the hardware performed on the first launch of CubeSats. By now, it's too late to make any major design changes, so we'll just have to see how well the PICs hold up.

Re:Some Answers (1)

kmccabe (978392) | more than 8 years ago | (#15445441)

Yea, the delays sorta threw a monkey wrench in Cal Poly's plan to use the operations from CP2 to help improve CP3's bus (CP3 is simply an evolution of CP2 with a different payload).
Cool to see so many other CubeSat developers popping out of the woodworks. I've done a bunch of software for CP3. :)

Re:Some Answers (1)

jwagner95 (978497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15445572)

Well it kind of worried me when the post stated that these sats were built from a kit, when in fact none of them were. I've been a reader of Slashdot for a few years now, but had to create an account for this post.

ID (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15443571)

From TFA : "Intelligent Design = Maximum Flexibility"

They must be looking for trouble

Don't mix Russian and Ukrainian technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15444809)

This rocket was actually developed in Dnipropetrovsk KBU. When I was a boy I lived there and still can remember how these engines roar when they tested them far away from the city.
One day we snicked there thru security to see rockets but saw just parts prepared for the final assembly.

PC/104 bus very cubular (1)

BobSteinVisiBone (574603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15445149)

I remember designing with the PC/104 bus [pc104.org] how naturally cube-shaped the results were. It was a serious limitation with packaging and mounting because no single dimension could be less than four inches. (E.g. some large flat areas were available but unusable.) Odd that a satellite might be the worlds most ideal packaging for PC/104 applications.
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