Thursday, July 19, 2012

SkyCube: The First Satellite Launched by You!

Southern Stars Group, LLC, maker of the SkySafari astronomy apps for iOS, Android, and Mac OS X, is developing a nano-satellite as the focus for a global education and public outreach campaign. This satellite, called SkyCube, is a 10x10x10 cm "1U" CubeSat intended for launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Q1 2013. The CubeSat will take low-resolution images of the Earth, broadcast simple messages uploaded by sponsors, and deploy a 3-meter reflective balloon to make itself optically visible to observers on the ground. Sponsorship opportunities begin at $1, and are open to anyone with a smartphone or web browser. Sponsors may follow the satellite in the sky, upload messages for it to re-broadcast, and request Earth images from the satellite, using their smartphone or browser. Southern Stars will develop server infrastructure and mobile/web apps for sponsors to follow the mission. The mission will utilize a 915 MHz CubeSat ground station communication network operated by the US Navy, the Boeing Corporation, and Utah State University. During ground station passes, the satellite will transmit images to the network, which are then forwarded via internet to sponsors who have requested them. The satellite will also broadcast sponsors' messages every 10 seconds as data pings - "tweets from space" - detectable to anyone with inexpensive (sub-$200) amateur radio equipment. LINK

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