Project KickSat Update

The BIS Technical Committee are excited to report progress with Project KickSat.

KickSat Engineering Sprite Prototype

During October 2011, the BIS got involved with the Project KickSat. This is an exciting project in collaboration with Cornell University, USA.  Zac Manchester is a graduate student in Aerospace Engineering. He is experimenting with the design, build and testing of very small and inexpensive spacecraft called “Sprites”. The aim is to have
them launched into Low Earth Orbit for just a few hundred dollars each. Sprites are the size of a couple of postage stamps but have solar cells, a radio transceiver and a microcontroller (tiny computer) with memory and sensors. Essentially the capabilities of bigger spacecraft have been scaled down. The first versions to be launched will be quite primitive, with the transmission of not much more than a name and a few bits of data, but it is hoped that future versions could include any type of sensor to fit within in, from thermometers to cameras. KickSat is a CubeSat, a standardised small satellite that can host the many Sprites and launch them into space via a spring loading. Once launched, world-wide network of amateur ground stations will track and record the radio signals to demonstrate their capabilities.

The British Interplanetary was one of the first to declare our involvement with Project KickSat through the Technical Committee, when a KickStarter project was run in October 2011. Around a dozen members of the BIS pledged money to purchase a BIS fleet of spacecraft. Although the Sprites are very small, this is very exciting as it essentially represents the first involvement by our members to actually put some hardware into orbit. We are very excited about the mission and Project KickSat is now reporting that it is scheduled for a launch during the Autumn of 2013 on the CRS-3/ELaNa-5 mission. Zac Manchester sent a letter to all KickSat backers recently in which he said “Thank you for sharing my dream of making spaceflight accessible to everyone. Together we are making this dream a reality!” Along with this news, Zac also sent out an actual engineering prototype Sprite, exactly the same as the ones being used in the pre-flight testing and just like the ones that will eventually fly into space.  This is shown in the image. Its been a long time in the planning, but we are getting there. With any luck, the BIS will have its first fleet of Satellites in space within a year.

Members who contributed to the BIS fleet of Project KickSat and have enquiries, please contact the Technical Committee here:

Kelvin F.Long
Editor JBIS, Secretary BIS Technical Committee

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