Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Crowd-funded, DIY spacecraft to float into low-Earth orbit

Rebecca Manchester
Zac Manchester '09 holds a prototype sprite, hundreds of which will fly into space as part of the KickSat mission.
Rebecca Manchester

Zac Manchester '09 holds a prototype sprite, hundreds of which will fly into space as part of the KickSat mission.

Abstract:
It'll look like hundreds of postage stamps fluttering toward Earth -- each an independent satellite transmitting a signal unique to the person who helped send it to space.

Crowd-funded, DIY spacecraft to float into low-Earth orbit

Ithaca, NY | Posted on December 5th, 2012

A Cornell-based project called KickSat is set to launch more than 200 of these tiny satellites, nicknamed "sprites," into low-Earth orbit as part of a routine NASA-administered mission in 2013 to the International Space Station. And unlike traditional, big government space exploration, KickSat is truly a launch by the people.

Several years ago, then-undergraduate Zac Manchester '09, now a graduate student in aerospace engineering, dreamt up the idea of crowd-sourced, personal space exploration. He and Ryan Zhou '10 and Justin Atchison '10, in the lab of associate professor Mason Peck, designed and built a prototype spacecraft that fits in the palm of the hand and costs just a few hundred dollars to make. The sprites are a type of micro-satellite called a "ChipSat."

"We hope if this works out this could literally become DIY (do it yourself) space exploration," said Manchester, now completing an internship at NASA. Three sprites have already been to space -- aboard NASA's last Endeavour mission in May 2011 as a late add-on to the flight.

Manchester's goal, he says in his blog about the mission, "is to bring down the huge cost of spaceflight, allowing anyone from a curious high school student or basement tinkerer to a professional scientist to explore what has until now been the exclusive realm of governments and large companies. By shrinking the spacecraft, we can fit more into a single launch slot and split the costs many ways. I want to make it easy enough and affordable enough for anyone to explore space."

Sprites are the size of a cracker but are outfitted with solar cells, a radio transceiver and a microcontroller (tiny computer). KickSat, which is the name of the sprites' launching unit, is a CubeSat, a standardized cubic satellite the size of a loaf of bread, frequently used in space research.

Using Kickstarter.com to find sponsors for the mission, Manchester raised nearly $75,000 as more than 300 people sponsored a sprite that will transmit an identifying signal, such as the initials of the donor. In 2013, about 250 sprites will be sent into space. One person, who donated $10,000, Manchester added, will get to "push the big red button" on the day of the launch.

Manchester's Kickstarter campaign has covered the cost of the hardware, while NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNA) program, which provides a free launch (normally $300,000) for university space research, is actually sending the sprites to space. The KickSat will hitch a ride in September 2013 (subject to change) from Cape Canaveral on CRS-3, the third SpaceX Falcon 9 flight destined for the International Space Station.

The sprites will be housed in KickSat in spring-loaded stacks. Once in orbit, a radio-controlled lid will open, and out will float the sprites as free-flying spacecraft, transmitting signals traceable back at mission control on Ithaca's Mount Pleasant.

A large part of the project is helping people track their own satellites with a simple software radio interface. Some quick, off-the-shelf parts like an antenna hooked to a computer can become a personal tracking station, Manchester said. He already has volunteers from all over the world -- Japan, Africa and elsewhere -- who will track their own satellites and send him data.

From a research standpoint, Manchester is interested in the dynamics and behavior of the satellites, and plans to test how to track their positions and determine their orbits. All this, before the little satellites burn up in the atmosphere.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact:
Syl Kacapyr
(607) 255-7701


Cornell Chronicle:
Anne Ju
(607) 255-9735

Copyright © Cornell University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair April 18th, 2014

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Introduces the MFP-3D InfinityTM AFM Featuring Powerful New Capabilities and Stunning High Performance April 18th, 2014

Conductive Inks: booming to $2.8 billion by 2024 April 17th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair April 18th, 2014

Novel stapled peptide nanoparticle combination prevents RSV infection, study finds April 17th, 2014

INSCX™ exchange to present Exchange trade reporting mechanism for engineered nanomaterials (NMs) to UK regulation agencies, insurers and upstream/downstream users April 17th, 2014

Announcements

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin April 18th, 2014

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair April 18th, 2014

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Introduces the MFP-3D InfinityTM AFM Featuring Powerful New Capabilities and Stunning High Performance April 18th, 2014

Transparent Conductive Films and Sensors Are Hot Segments in Printed Electronics: Start-ups in these fields show above-average momentum, while companies working on emissive displays such as OLED are fading, Lux Research says April 17th, 2014

Aerospace/Space

Tiny particles could help verify goods: Chemical engineers hope smartphone-readable microparticles could crack down on counterfeiting April 15th, 2014

NASA Engineers Prepare Game Changing Cryotank for Testing April 9th, 2014

Space Industry Leaders Countdown To Space Tech Expo 2014 – Opening Next Week: Space Tech Expo and Conference 2014 opens its doors at the Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach April 1 – 3 March 30th, 2014

Micro systems with big commercial potential featured in SPIE journal: Special section in Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS highlights emerging MOEMS technologies March 25th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE







  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE