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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. ...

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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 »


Rockets are powerful stuff, and satellites and astronauts experience tremendous G-forces pushing down on them during launch.  For picosatellite work, it is necessary that your design be able to withstand forces equivalent to perhaps 10 times Earth gravity-- 10Gs.  To test this, the easiest way is to build a centrifuge.

Think of the spinning bucket gimmick.  If you tie a bucket to a rope and fill it with water, you can make the bucket swing in a loop-the-loop over your head and not spill, as long as it is spinning fast enough.  You need enough spin to counteract the 1G of the Earth's pull, so you need a spinning centrifuge of at least >1G.

I've some background in space weather-- the influence of solar activity on Earth and near-Earth orbits.  My new job as a professor at Capitol College has brought me into contact with several bright students working on using picosatellites to test our orbital debris removal concepts.  Further, the number of other groups doing balloon and picosatellite work is increasing (yay!)  So it's time to update this column more frequently with not only my progress, but stories of other pico teams.
Calliope integration and testing is on hold until Spring break, possibly until Summer.  This is driven by two factors: my new job has me short on time, and InterOrbital's deadlines have removed a strong time pressure.  It's a good situation-- it's always better to have more time.

One aspect of my new job is presenting mission scenarios and case studies from Mission Operations.  I posted a key trade in my science blog, looking at explosive bolts versus springs from a risk point of view.  In retrospect, this column-- being about crunchy engineering topics-- may have been a better venue.
While I've been strangely silent, the space industry is surging ahead.  I have, off the record, been told of small companies looking to invest $10s of millions into launchers, of new picosatellite designs (like Cubesat and Tubesat) being bandied about, of a possible new East Coast space port.  NASA is publically funding multiple potential launch providers.
While we chug away on our Tubesat-style picosatellite, in the 10x10x10cm range, two independent efforts are working on even smaller satellites, and I thought they were worth a nod.
Dan Reus of the creative instigator/outfit Openly Disruptive ("the future will be what we make it") tossed me this note: I thought you might like to see the mention of you and Project Calliope in a recent post by our local alternative news weekly: http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/rftmusic/2011/08/dan_reus_outerspace_music_kickstarter.php