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 which is currently scheduled for a launch during the Autumn of 2013 on the CRS-3/ELaNa-5 mission.
More information about Project KickSat can be found by visiting Zac Manchester’s project: http://zacinaction.github.com/kicksat/
Details of the project can be found by contacting us here.