Project Calliope and the Age of Personal Satellites
Yep, for the low price of only $8,000 you too can launch your own satellite. Interorbital Systems will launch a TubeSat for you for $8k, although you have to design and build the satellite to do what you want. The TubeSat is small satellite that is shaped like, well, a small tube. They are launched into very low Earth orbit, so low the satellite will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in a few months at the longest (this is intentional to avoid adding to space debris). It has a maximum mass of .75kg (or about 1.65 lbs) for everything you want to put in it…sorry, not big enough for a space based death ray!
However, there are many interesting things you can do. Project Calliope is one of the first TubeSats. Headed by Alex Antunes, it will make measurements of Earth’s ionosphere and translate its measurements into a midi file which will be sent back down to Earth. You can keep up with progress on Project Calliope blog or see the presentation given at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington DC.
I think this is a great project and hope it succeeds (I am speaking both of Interborbital Systems and Project Calliope). I was at the Satellite Educator’s Association meeting last fall and they had a booth promoting TubeSats. I had dinner with a the woman at the booth (I can’t remember her name) and she was very enthusiastic and had big plans. I was a little skeptical, but hoping they can succeed where others have failed. I will say she did a great job of answering all my skeptical questions giving me hope they could make it. They are expecting their first launch in the first quarter of 2011, so we will find out soon.
Good luck Project Calliope. I look forward to hearing some music from space!
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