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This is fascinating. If hackerspaces can buy an $8,000 laser cutter, why not send a satellite into orbit? Interorbital Systems (IOS) says it can deploy 32 tiny satellites simultaneously from a rocket launched from the Pacific island of Tonga. The price? A measly 8 grand.

Planet Earth has entered the age of the Personal Satellite with the introduction of Interorbital’s TubeSat Personal Satellite (PS) Kit. The new IOS TubeSat PS Kit is the low-cost alternative to the CubeSat. It has three-quarters of the mass (0.75-kg or 1.65-lb) and volume of a CubeSat, but still offers plenty of room for most experiments or applications. And, best of all, the price of the TubeSat kit actually includes the price of a launch into Low-Earth-Orbit on an IOS NEPTUNE 30 launch vehicle. Since the TubeSats are placed into self-decaying orbits 310 kilometers (192 miles) above the Earth’s surface, they do not contribute to the long-term build-up of orbital debris. After operating for a few months (the exact length of time on orbit is dependent on solar activity), they will safely re-enter the atmosphere and burn-up. TubeSats are designed to be orbit-friendly. Launches are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2011.



A TubeSat is designed to function as a Basic Satellite Bus or as a simple stand-alone satellite. Each TubeSat kit includes the satellite’s structural components, printed circuit board (PCB) Gerber Files, electronic components, solar cells, batteries, transceiver, antennas, microcomputer, and the required programming tools. With these components alone, the builder can construct a satellite that puts out enough power to be picked up on the ground by a hand-held amateur radio receiver. Simple applications include broadcasting a repeating message from orbit or programming the satellite to function as a private orbital amateur radio relay station. These are just two examples. The TubeSat also allows the builder to add his or her own experiment or function to the basic TubeSat Kit.

[Thanks, Ryan!]

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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Comments

  1. SKR says:

    i really wish I could think of a use that would justify this. I just want to say, in casual conversation, “Hold on let me connect to my satellite”.

    1. Itnom says:

      I remember having seen a presentation from the SIGINT Chaos Computer Club conference were a presenter threw the idea of a people/hacker owned completely encrypted DIY satellite based internet out there. If the orbit of those satellites was stable could that theoretically be done?

      1. https://openid.org/inventorjack says:

        I know there are amateur radio owned/operated sattelites out there. Not exactly what you’re looking for, but do look into it. Some pretty cool tech for ‘amateurs’.

  2. beresourceful.net says:

    Wonder if it would be possible to build an ion drive into the tube, (ionizing croma wire at one end, magnetic coil system to accelerate the ionized atoms down the center of the tube, and some sort of gyro system to do aiming) to extend the operating life of the tubesat.

    1. RocketGuy says:

      If you had enough solar power correctly polarized on a deployed wire it might even increase it’s orbital altitude. No idea if the power requirements are too much for something this small though.

      An Ion drive would probably be more viable, and useful outside the magnetosphere as well. Gyros are trivial these days, but a star tracker would be preferable due to drift issues, particularly in the wildly varying thermal environment it would find itself in. Lots of interesting engineering issues to solve…

  3. HandymanEric says:

    After perusing the site, one is left to wonder if their rocket will ever get off the ground. They seem more interested in selling moon dust and “promotional fares” to space…

    If anyone’s interested, I’ve got a Jetson’s car you can have. Give me $250,000, and, after I make it and give it to you, I’ll give you your $250,000 back. Did i mention it will fold into a briefcase and makes an adorable putting sound?

  4. blabla says:

    8k?? what about the 50k launch cost LOL

    1. stevenh512 says:

      You must have missed the part where they said they can launch 32 satellites simultaneously on one rocket. For the mathematically challenged (myself included, but I do know how to use a calculator.. lol), 32 satellites at $8,000 a piece is $256,000 total.. more than enough to cover the 50k launch cost.