A satellite as cute as a pumpkin, they are.  Ran into this neat post at NASAHackSpace about a Forbes report on Pumpkin Inc's pre-made CubeSats.  CubeSat itself is a specification, not a piece of off-the-shelf hardware, so Pumpkin decided to prebuild kits and sell them.  If you have your own rocket to launch on, for $7500 they'll sell you a CubeSat kit.  Although, to quibble, it looks like they're selling the variant mini CubeSat configuration, rather than the usual 10cm cubes.

This neatly parallels Interorbital's TubeSat-- you know, what I'm building and what this entire column is always about.  InterOrbital Systems (IOS) has the edge in price/performance, as they the launch in for the same cost.  But it looks like neither IOS nor Pumpkin provide pre-mades, just kits.  So there's still hobbyiest work involved, but kits remove the need for engineering and just leave the fun part of assembly and integration.

TubeSats and CubeSats are slightly different, of course, and I am insanely pleased that both are advancing the idea of platform 'kits'.  This is a great step in the commodification of space research.  Even if the mini CubeSat looks eerily similar to a Hellraiser Lemarchand box.


Launching Project Calliope, sponsored by Science 2.0, in 2011
News every Tuesday at The Satellite Diaries, every Friday at the Daytime Astronomer