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Make Your Own Sputnik

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the because-you-can dept.

Space 118

An anonymous reader writes "What better way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sputnik than by making one of your own. The BBC says that you can build your own Sputnik satellite from stuff lying around the house. The BBC quotes an electronics hobbyist: "Technology now is way ahead of what was available in 1957, and making your own fully functional Sputnik would now be very simple indeed. I wouldn't be surprised if you could build one in a container smaller than a matchbox, weighing about as much as a wristwatch. The components, including a transmitter, battery and the sensors you'd need would probably cost less than 50 pounds [about 100 US dollars]. It really shouldn't be a problem to build and program the whole thing in under a day." Unfortunately, the BBC article doesn't go into technical details." And of course, actually getting it up into orbit might take a little more work.

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118 comments

Choices (5, Funny)

kevmatic (1133523) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072629)

So, do I make my own Helicopter or my own Sputnik? Hmm...

I say Helicopter. Cooler and Deadlier.

Re:Choices (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072651)

Sputnikopter!

Now you don't have to decide!

Re:Choices (4, Funny)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072767)

I say Helicopter. Cooler and Deadlier.

I'd go with the sputnik. If you can get something into orbit, you can rain atomic destruction onto any spot on Earth, unless the leaders of the world pay you ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

Re:Choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21073135)

I would prefer GAZILLION DOLLARS, you insensitive clod!

Re:Choices (2, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21074339)

Seriously, I almost wish that we one day have some madman to try pull such an extortion off with some spacecraft.

Maybe I should be careful what I wish for, but come on, crimes need to be made funnier!

Re:Choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21076169)

More like 15,000 dollars.

No problem (4, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072635)

"And of course, actually getting it up into orbit might take a little more work. "

I know a guy that makes home-made helos' that has the first 7 feet covered - after that...two words: space elevator.

You can build a spaceship from the things you find (3, Funny)

mtaht (603670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21074269)

The filk song "You can build a spaceship from the things you find at home" comes to mind.

http://www.khaosworks.org/filk/spaceship.html [khaosworks.org]

Now next on my agenda was to find a rocket drive
Strong enough to launch the ship and still keep me alive
I found the right propellant when I scouted out the bars
Six kegs of Old Peculier that will shoot me to the shtars! *hic*

(chorus) Lockheed, Bell and Boeing, MDC and Grumman too
            Pratt and Whitney, BAE, they'll keep it all from you
            They make big bucks off NASA so they never want it known
            That you can build a spaceship from the things you find at home!

Re:No problem (2, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 6 years ago | (#21075175)

And in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first Sputniks, the BBC will post instructions for how you can build your own Sputnik 2 at home... including the dog.

How about going Old School? (5, Interesting)

fataugie (89032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072649)

Wouldn't it be cooler to build it with authentic to the era parts and pieces? It would be like a scavenger hunt meets science class. Sadly, it's beyond me and my capabilites.

I do have a line on a bunch of old vaccum tubes that have been in storage for years....

Entirely feasible (3, Interesting)

wsanders (114993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073545)

Entirely feasible, the Sputnik was basically a low power (QRP) transmitter. AFAIK it had no other payload. Ham radio operators have been making these for years:

http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/qrpprojs.html [arrl.org]

It did beep faster/slower as temperatures rose/fell, I think, which you could basically implement using normal temperature variations in off the shelf resistors and capacitors.

Re:Entirely feasible (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21074841)

Exactly! It could contain a simple QRPp transmitter on the high HF bands or VHF/UHF. And with a PIC, you could have all sorts of fun. Add in some sensors to monitor temperature, battery voltage, etc.. You could transmit them all back to Earth using CW. And it could definitely be done for under $100. Not that it would last very long up there, but hey, for under 50 quid nothing is going to last long in space. lol

Didn't we find out... (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072695)

...back in the last Sputnik story that the entire idea of a real science probe was pretty much scrapped due to time pressure, and that they launched pretty much only a radio transmitter? Building that primitive beacon wasn't the impressive thing at all, putting it into orbit was.

Re:Didn't we find out... (5, Insightful)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072833)

A science probe? Didn't the only goal of that think was to say "See that blipping thing over your head? Next time, we could send a nuke anywhere on the planet"

Re:Didn't we find out... (1)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 6 years ago | (#21075561)

Well sure, but the trick here is that you can do both and look like saints. Send a satellite that beams back data about oh, the Van Allen belts, and you can issue a press release saying "Observe the Mighty Soviet Science and Engineering Team in Action! Space Probe studies Van Allen Belts for 6 month mission!" And then when the US government shits their pants and says "OMGWTFBBQ!! They can nuke us from anywhere!", you can say "What are you talking about? This is a mission of Science and Peace! For Peaceful scientific purposes only! You are evil capitalist warmongers for saying such a thing!"

The *entire* point of the project was to make the USA look bad.

OT: your sig (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072889)

You may want to update your sig to reflect the other DRM-free stores sprouting up (Amazon, Wal-Mart, Zune Marketplace soon) and Universal selling DRM-free music on Amazon as well. Not to mention places like eMusic and Magnatune

Re:Didn't we find out... (2, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072897)

Exactly and changing the "beep" depending on temperature was not "programming" but how temperature worked on resistors to the timing circuit. Sputnik was 100% analog.

Re:Didn't we find out... (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072929)

Sputnik actually HAD science instruments: it encoded pressure and temperature inside the capsule in radio pulses. This allowed to verify that there's no big danger of micrometeorits in space.

Re:Didn't we find out... (1)

FST777 (913657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073687)

ONLY temperature, in an analog way. A drop in pressure would cause a drop in temperature, thus telling if something weird (like micrometeoroids) is going on.

The beauty of Sputnik was its simplicity. And the fact that it was in orbit.

Re:Didn't we find out... (2, Informative)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072987)

1) Accelerate to approx. 35 times the speed of sound
2) Release (preferably in an upward direction)

Sheesh. Jules Verne already knew that. ;)

Re:Didn't we find out... (1)

Shadowmist (57488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076251)

1) Accelerate to approx. 35 times the speed of sound
2) Release (preferably in an upward direction)

Sheesh. Jules Verne already knew that. ;)
Of course if you release it straight up it's going to come straight down. :) That's why rockets tip over after they leave the pad... you want that velocity in radial mode.

Re:Didn't we find out... (1)

Vulch (221502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073391)

The intended payload was running behind time, but was launched as Sputnik 3 a few months later.

Re:Didn't we find out... (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21075093)

Agreed, building a radio that says "Hey I am here for a short period of time" is not hard, but launching it into space is.

Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (3, Interesting)

jayminer (692836) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072703)

...is there really any possibility to launch it to the orbit from my backyard?

Can I do it with, say, $10,000 and without getting caught?

Re:Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072811)

Can I do it with, say, $10,000 and without getting caught?

Yes, though you might want to make a few of those sputniks in case of "accidents" [gizmodo.com]

Re:Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072825)

Sure there is... if you have a Scaled Composites workshop in your backyard and a place to store the volatile chemicals... mind you, range safety become an issue... you'll have to check your neighborhood association charter to make sure you aren't violating any rules, for things like towers, radio antennas, satellite dishes, etc.

Re:Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21073239)

Ummm.....probably.

Orbital velocity is about 15k mph. A rocket with about 5g acceleration ought to manage that in a couple of minutes.

Of course, the bugger is air resistance. And you need to be doing 15k mph sideways, not upwards. So my patented idea for a backyard launcher is a biggish hobbyist rocket with some stubby hypersonic Nordweiler wings. Put it on a helium balloon - let it go up some 30 miles. That loses most of the air resistance, and only costs a hundred pounds or so.

At that level there is little air. Fire off the rocket, pointing sideways. Once it gets up to about Mach 4 it ought to be quite stable, and just skim off the surface of the atmosphere, still accelerating. Once it reaches 15k mph, Bingo - you're in orbit.

Ought to re-enter safely as well - you only need heat tiles if you're going to plunge into the atmosphere. This will skim over it like a skipping stone as the orbit decays, slowing, and then finally glide down.

Re:Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (1)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077885)

So my patented idea for a backyard launcher is a biggish hobbyist rocket with some stubby hypersonic Nordweiler wings. Put it on a helium balloon - let it go up some 30 miles. That loses most of the air resistance, and only costs a hundred pounds or so.
One problem with that is that "hobbyish rockets" use atmospheric oxygen as its oxidizer. If you go up 30 miles, you not only lose air resistance, you also lose the air (which includes oxygen). Try lighting that rocket 30 miles up -- you're going to have problems.

Re:Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (2, Insightful)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073269)

You might, given the fact that you only need to carry a "matchbox" into a low orbit. But it will still be a hell of a job and lots of trail and error. The bigger problem you will have is that you will have to do it without hitting anything (civilian jets, satellite's, etc), as it might set you back a few hundred million dollars if you manage to do so.

Re:Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21073965)

The bigger problem you will have is that you will have to do it without hitting anything (civilian jets, satellite's, etc)

That really is a non-problem compared to other issues. The chances that you hit something are really, really small.

Re:Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21074831)

will have to do it without hitting anything (civilian jets, satellite's, etc), as it might set you back a few hundred million dollars if you manage to do so.
That's where the not getting caught part comes into play. Once it leaves my makeshift launch pad (which will NOT be in any location that would implicate me) I am gonna disavow any knowledge of this device :).

Re:Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (2, Interesting)

Robonaut (1134343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073367)

How many people would seriously want to do this, say launch something ~100cm^3 & 100 grams for ~10K? If 10 people/groups would sign up, not only would they get their stuff in space, but they could help out a university team doing some of the heavy lifting Comments? Suggestions? Reservations?

Re:Besides imagining a beowulf cluster of those... (1)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 6 years ago | (#21075997)

I thought about this for a moment, before saying "sure!"

If you were to build an underground supercollider ring (which in principle is basically a huge railgun) from scrap parts, using free labour from friends and family, and you could build a payload that would withstand the 10,000 or so Gs during accelleration, then yes, you could do this, and for about $10,000.

If you don't want to get caught, I would recommend doing the launch during the day, so that the bright flash emitted as the payload hits the atmosphere wouldn't quite light up the *entire* neighbourhood. Also, make sure you get the permits with the city for tunneling underground. Tell them you're building a personal subway system.

Yay! More litter! (2, Insightful)

avronius (689343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072717)

Perhaps they should be encouraging someone to create a powerful electro-magnet satellite sweeper to surf the orbital zone and "pick up" the junk that is whistling around out there, rather than encouraging Joe Average to add his own litter to the fray.

DISCLAIMER:
No, I have not thought this through.

But, it would be interesting to see -something- done about the problem before the garbage makes extra-terrestrial travel even more dangerous than it already is...

Re:Yay! More litter! (2, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072871)

I have thought this through (kind of) and decided at the speeds the garbage is going, a magnet is either going to have very little effect or if it does collide, the garbage will blast the magnet to pieces and create even more junk.

Re:Yay! More litter! (1)

avronius (689343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073001)

See, I was thinking that the "sweeper" would be heading in the same direction as the trash... It would need to "catch up" to the crap.

Perhaps it could change the orbit of each piece of crap - into a decaying orbit?

Re:Yay! More litter! (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073595)

Perhaps it could change the orbit of each piece of crap - into a decaying orbit?

All orbits are decaying. Some bits might collide and a few bits of metal or flecks of paint might've reached higher orbits or even escape velocity. But most of it will be slowed by the faint friction from the rarified atmosphere to eventually burn up on reentry.

Basically, all that junk will eventually fall on its own. We just keep sending more junk up.

Re:Yay! More litter! (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073895)

Perhaps it could change the orbit of each piece of crap - into a decaying orbit?
But don't most if not all satellites have rockets to prevent that? Wouldn't it make more sense to just use said rockets to nudge the satellite down to burn away?

Re:Yay! More litter! (1)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077929)

But don't most if not all satellites have rockets to prevent that? Wouldn't it make more sense to just use said rockets to nudge the satellite down to burn away?
A working satellite wouldn't be considered space junk -- space junk includes not only dysfunctional satellites (which probably can't use any rockets, if any, to change orbit) but also random bits and pieces of stuff, such as nuts and bolts, random pieces of rockets that stay in orbit, etc.

Re:Yay! More litter! (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073077)

DISCLAIMER:
No, I have not thought this through.
Have you considered a career in politics?

Re:Yay! More litter! (1)

avronius (689343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073921)

I was adding the disclaimer so that the kids in the audience wouldn't rush home to disassembel mommies vaccum cleaner in the quest for a clutter-free space in, erm, space.

But, now that you mention it, it could be a precursor to a career in politics... Can I count on your vote? :)

- Avron

Because Sergei Korolev is no big deal nowdays. (3, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072727)

(rolls eyes)

Anybody with a public school education can outclass Werner Von Braun or Sergei Korolev with chewing gum and duct tape!

Please.

Re:Because Sergei Korolev is no big deal nowdays. (4, Funny)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072835)

I don't know, the man was aiming for the moon and hit london after all

Re:Because Sergei Korolev is no big deal nowdays. (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073475)

I thought it was the stars. As in his biopic...

"I Aim for the Stars" (but sometimes hit London).

Re:Because Sergei Korolev is no big deal nowdays. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21075961)

pffft. The average US kid with a public school education can't even point out London on a map without google earth ...

Re:Because Sergei Korolev is no big deal nowdays. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21073679)

This is slashdot. Everybody here thinks he's a bloody genius and that bullshit downloaded from Wikipedia will make him superior to Real People who have done Real Things.

It's a mystery why those talented slashdot people cannot find a career outside of burger-flipping.

Well... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072733)

I, for one, welcome our new orbital overlords (constructed on the cheap).

!News (1)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072735)

Amateur radio operators have been doing this kind of thing for years... and our satellites actually MAKE it to orbit. Re the OSCAR program.

to whomever put the tag "trebuchetforthewin" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21072789)

thank you, I have milk coming out of my nose now from laughing so hard...

Getting into Orbit... (4, Interesting)

Decius6i5 (650884) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072799)

...may be expensive but if you can fit the electronics inside of a ping pong ball you can at least get it close [jpaerospace.com] for free.

Pee Wee (2, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072801)

You could even build one yourself, as Paul Rubens explains below.

Looks like Pee Wee finally found a new gig, after that sex scandle and all...

What the hell would you need a fan for? (2, Insightful)

SirStiff (911718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072839)

Good luck getting the fan to do any "cooling" in space. And with today's instrumentation efficiency, there's probably not a whole lotta need to worry about cooling.. I'd be more worried about keeping things heated above -40 deg C to maintain operating temperature.

Re:What the hell would you need a fan for? (1)

N1ck0 (803359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073043)

The light from the sun is surprisingly effective at heating one half of the spacecraft. But yes most likely consumer electronics would fry and freeze repeatedly, making them very useless regardless of the fan's existence.

Re:What the hell would you need a fan for? (1)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073109)

Yeah, the article implies that the original Sputnik had a fan as well. If the case was hermetically sealed then maybe this would work.

There is also a balloon for pressure/leak sensing so looks like the intent is for the unit to be sealed.

I would just use a hacked cell phone (cost much less than $100USD) that calls me once an hour or so to give me the temperature etc.

This is ridiculous (3, Insightful)

philmack (796529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072853)

The article is not remotely about building a sputnik, but it is about how technology in sputnik served similar purposes to things used in the home. Using a baby monitor as a transmitter? a domestic thermostat? a balloon? a mercury thermometer? "4x large batteries"? come on. This sounds like the losing science fair project of a seven year old.
~Phil

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

N1ck0 (803359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073203)

This never should have made it to slashdot.

Most Thermostats are either a bi-coil that moves a mercury switch, or a digital RTD, both which would not survive the conditions in space. The balloon would be nice if the latex didn't change elasticity with temperature...and how are you going to read the pressure differences. And of course off the shelf batteries would boil in the heat of the sun, and freeze on the cold side of the craft.

Sorry but this article is a stupid attempt to show how the cutting edge of science 50 years ago is commonplace by today's standards. And really we all knew that already.


Now create a micro-controller that does the same thing as sputnik I, and it might be worth reading. Make that the size of an aspirin tablet, and you'd have something thats news worthy.

Re:This is ridiculous (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073343)

The article is not remotely about building a sputnik, but it is about how technology in sputnik served similar purposes to things used in the home. Using a baby monitor as a transmitter? a domestic thermostat? a balloon? a mercury thermometer? "4x large batteries"? come on. This sounds like the losing science fair project of a seven year old.

Well, it beats a cup of dirt.

next article (3, Funny)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072981)

Make your own Internet! You will need 100 feet of twine, 4 dixie cups, and some duct tape.

Re:next article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21073117)

and Al Gore...

(Whack....)

Re:next article (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076415)

Make your own Internet! You will need 100 feet of twine, 4 dixie cups, and some duct tape.

You did what to the Dixie Chicks?
     

Orbit (3, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072989)

"And of course, actually getting it up into orbit might take a little more work. "

Actually, it is probably a crime in most jurisdictions.

Re:Orbit (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073791)

But then, getting caught is pretty hard.

Bert
Who lives in a country where people don't have guns and the police doesn't have rockets

Size of a matchbox? NOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21073113)

You could easily build this into something the size of a 1p coin (US penny) or smaller if you have a manufacturing lab.

You literally only need 2 or 3 SMT IC's and a couple other SMT components.

Now there's an image to ponder... (2, Insightful)

TaleSpinner (96034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073289)

> And of course, actually getting it up into orbit might take a little more work.

I'd be careful about saying that. While nerds may be in a minority everywhere they are found, in aggregate they are still a numerous and clever breed prone to accepting challenges like that. DJGPP came about because Stallman said it wasn't possible to run gcc under DOS. The thought of hundreds of thousands of sputniks in low earth orbit is scarey. :)

I want to do this... (4, Interesting)

Upaut (670171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073385)

And have it play "Orange Crush" by REM... It would drive the RIAA totally insane if there is a pirate signal from space they can't find to take down... Heck, some solar panels expanding from the altoids tin, and an ipod shuffle, it could really be an achievment...

Indeed... (2, Informative)

Gibbs-Duhem (1058152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073399)

Some MIT hackers did just that. It's beeping instead of transmitting, but ya know =)

http://hacks.mit.edu/Hacks/by_year/2007/sputnik/ [mit.edu]

Re:Indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21074277)

Am I the only one who is not impressed by most of these MIT 'hacks'?

So they put an aluminum foil covered ball in a hall and it beeps.

I'd expect more from the best and brightest of the world.

Getting it in orbit may not be so hard (2, Informative)

enaiel (470873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073753)

Wasn't there a Dutch dude who got his amateur transponder [observations.biz] launched as a secondary payload on an Indian PSLV rocket. Quite possibly there are more rockets with spare lifting capacity that might launch your homebrewed Sputnik. Might be worth the good publicity for them.

sputnik? no. Launcher? hell yeah. (2, Funny)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073867)

make your own DIY sputnik? Maybe.....

but I'd rather make my own DIY "rocket that launched it". Now thats got all the ingredients that makes any self respecting geeks eyes light up!!

Re:sputnik? no. Launcher? hell yeah. (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21074999)

Well, I built my own rocket from surplus nigerian car parts, and it flies up to 7 feet high. The local space administration refused to make me their preferred supplier of satellite launches, and are wasting money on an expensive foreign establishment. My next version should reach up to 15 feet!

Re:sputnik? no. Launcher? hell yeah. (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21075163)

...for three hours!

rofl! I wish I could mod you up, but alas I have already posted.....

On getting it into space... (2, Interesting)

Isao (153092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21073933)

If you work with Amsat [amsat.org] you can have your work shot into orbit. There are about 18 currently in operation [amsat.org], with launches starting in the 60's [amsat.org]. Amsat is an international organization.

Re:On getting it into space... (2, Interesting)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21074315)

The very first non-government satellite was AMSAT's own OSCAR-1.

The very first secondary payload was OSCAR-1. When other people thought they might be able to hitch a ride in to orbit the way AMSAT did, the Authorities suggested they look at how AMSAT did it.

The free rides in to orbit aren't as plentiful as they once were, but are based on one of two things: either stuff little satellites in to areas of the launch vehicle where "real" satellites won't fit, or take advantage of launch vehicles having excess capacity, since it's easier to build a really big rocket and launch a few tonnes of sand in to orbit along with your satellite than to have to reengineer your rockets every couple of years as satellites get bigger.

The launch system manuals are all available on line and make interesting reading - lobbing a satellite in to orbit is not trivial. You can read about little ones like Pegasus [orbital.com] or great big ones like Ariane 5 [arianespace.com].

There are also people who make payloads that look and behave like satellites, but send them up on balloons instead.

...laura

Always the details that stops you. (1)

Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) | more than 6 years ago | (#21074591)

Yes, getting any object to orbit is the hardest part. You can make anything from nanosatillites (this object would qualify) to geosync communications satellites and send it to orbit if you have the money. Russia, China and several other countries will send your satellite to orbit or any other place in space. Amateurs have launched suborbital rockets in 2004 but getting to orbit is a a lot harder. Here is the /. article about the amateur suborbital rocket: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/05/18/0133223&mode=thread&tid=134&tid=137&tid=160&tid=193 [slashdot.org] Here is the industry article about some history and pricing for launching objects into space: http://www.aiaa.org/aerospace/Article.cfm?issuetocid=54&ArchiveIssueID=10 [aiaa.org]

Exchange Rate? (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 6 years ago | (#21074661)

The components, including a transmitter, battery and the sensors you'd need would probably cost less than 50 pounds [about 100 US dollars].
Unless, of course, you actually live in the US - in which case it would only cost 50 US dollars.

*Dodge*

Orbit-it-yourself (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076253)

As it turns out, any computer that any of us has is ~50 years more advanced than sputnik also. As for launching into space yourself, that's a bit expensive, something like $700-$1000/kg with 1000 kg payload...plus the 30 million in r&d for the launch vehicle and related reconnaissance. (source: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/395/1 [thespacereview.com])

Electronics vs. Radiation in space (4, Informative)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076449)

The BBC quotes an electronics hobbyist: "Technology now is way ahead of what was available in 1957, and making your own fully functional Sputnik would now be very simple indeed. I wouldn't be surprised if you could build one in a container smaller than a matchbox, weighing about as much as a wristwatch. The components, including a transmitter, battery and the sensors you'd need would probably cost less than 50 pounds [about 100 US dollars]. It really shouldn't be a problem to build and program the whole thing in under a day."

Oh, that old meme.

Trivia: What is the probability that off-the-shelf microelectronics (like wireless routers) will work in space? Answer: Roughly zero.

Why? Look at the information starting at page 23 on this document: Spacecraft Charging and Hazards to Electronics in Space [nyud.net]:

3. Radiation Effects on Spacecraft Electronics

The radiation sources discussed are hazardous to electronics since energetic particles can deposit energy inside microelectronic circuitry and disrupt their proper operation. Energy deposition in electronics is measured in rads(M) where M is a specific material being considered (1 rad = 100 ergs/gm). Energy deposition can be in the form of ionization or atomic displacements, which can permanently damage electronics, or it can be in the form of single events, which can cause transient or permanent damages depending on the severity of the event.

NASA doesn't ship Xeon processors into space, not because of budget cuts, but because they don't work reliably (if at all) in space.

Re:Electronics vs. Radiation in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21077527)

Can't you just have it painted by a Chinese toy factory to shield it though?

Well, duh. (1)

mbessey (304651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077533)

That's why you build your Sputnik's outer casing out of two stainless steel pet bowls soldered together. A millimeter or so of steel will knock the incoming radiation way down, and will incidentally shield the insides from electromagnetic fields and solar wind.

It's not like you'd just be duct-taping the componbents together and shooting it into space - that'd be silly.

Re:Electronics vs. Radiation in space (1)

TinheadNed (142620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078101)

Actually Xeon processors will work in space. They become incredibly effective radiation detectors, as they'll stop processing instantly.
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