Fake Banner
At MakerFaire NYC

Hi all,I'll be at the NYC MakerFaire this weekend (Sept 21-22), in case anyone wishes to join up...

Concepts For A CubeSat LARP

I am a firm believer that simulations improve reality.  If you want to launch a CubeSat, you...

Putting a TARDIS in Space?

I am used to odd looks when I say I'm flying a satellite to convert the ionosphere to music. ...

Who Can Launch a CubeSat?

In the half year since I wrote last September, the CubeSat field has greatly moved forward. ...

User picture.
picture for Hank Campbellpicture for Brian Taylor
Project CalliopeRSS Feed of this column.

Alex "Sandy" Antunes is the mastermind behind 'Project Calliope', a pico-satellite funded by Science 2.0 and being launched in 2011 by a mad scientist who is a space & music enthusiast. This... Read More »

We are in a new space revolution, and in the past two years, several people have used the Kickstarter crowd-funding platform  to try to get into space.  Not all succeeded.  Let's look at the current standings.  They are, in order of kickstarter: Team Prometheus, Project Calliope, Sampling Space, KickSat, ArduSat, and most recently SkyCube.
There are several schools of thought on building a CubeSat or other picosatellite.  We will contrast what we call Lego-style with what we'll dub the Custom Shop approach.

Lego Style suggests using the easiest, rather than the most efficient, parts and tools to create your satellite.  This is the kit-bashing or Lego bricks approach.  You have several generic pieces, and you put them together to make what you want.  The final end product may be a bit square and clunky, but the advantage is that you were able to quickly build and test.
Telstar 1 enabled the first transatlantic TV broadcasts, was the proof that communications satellites were viable, and began start of an industry.  It also provided the first US #1 Billboard song hit, from a song about Telstar 1 by a group called the Tornados.  The song was simply called 'Telstar' and is also notable as an early piece of electronica.
If you use off-the-shelf electronics parts instead of expensive, hard-to-find space-rated gear, will your satellite work?  The process of 'derating' will let you do this.  Engineer Amanda Shields contributes today's guest column.

I'm becoming very familiar with derating and the joys of it.   Electrical components for spacecraft have to be derated. Basically, that means that you take the electrical component and you look at the data sheet for that piece and you have to say "Well, according to the datasheet it can have a maximum input power of XX, but NASA says that it has to be derated to 80% of that, so we can actually only have an input power of YY".
A Mojave rocket company, an asteroid hunter, and a web pundit walk into a conference.  The badge person says, "what is this some kind of joke?"

Okay, we gotta get to space somehow.  Here's what's new in the private space race industry.  What ties these 4 newsbits together is it's all about having fun.

SatMagazine (March 2012) reports
Today's primer: orbital mechanics, or how we have to manuever to catch debris.  There's a lot of debris in low earth orbit, ranging from paint chips and spare bolts to a heavy toolbox up through entirely dead satellites.  It's tracked, it's plentiful, it was even featured in Wall-E.  How is it a satellite in orbit runs into debris?
NASA visualization of orbital debris