Conduct Your Space Experiment Via KickStarter
Friday, July 6th, 2012
By Jason Taetsch
How much does it cost to conduct an experiment in space? Likely more than your salary.
That being said, space exploration could be coming to the masses sooner than you think. Ever since the launch of Sputnik, dreams of conducting an experiment in space have belonged solely to national space programs and corporations with astronomical budgets. For decades, unless you had a couple extra million in the bank, your chances of performing an experiment in orbit were slim to none. But if a team of physicists and engineers from NanoSatisfi, a tech startup operating out of NASA’s Ames Research Center, has their way, all of that is about to change.
According to the team at NanoSatisfi, the plan is to launch a satellite with an open-source development platform that can be used by developers, programmers, hobbyists, or just about anyone with some extra cash and free time to conduct experiments of their own designs.
Kickstarting Your Experiment
KickStarter, meanwhile, is making it possible for the team to crowdsource the funding for the satellite, which is known as ArduSat for the Arduino processors that will be used to control the various applications for the experiments.
A KickStarter pledge of just $325 USD, gets you 72 hours of uptime on the satellite to perform your experiments, take satellite pictures, and broadcast messages from space. Not a programming wizard? The ArduSat team plans to provide templates for project backers to aid them in steering the satellite, using the on-board cameras, and manipulating the processors.
Space for You
While just about anyone can pay to use the satellite, the team behind the project is made up of space industry heavy weights, lending the project a substantial amount of credibility. The team is lead by Peter Platzer, a high-energy physicist whose resume includes time at CERN, as well as his current gig at the NASA Ames Research Center. Other team members include Jeroen Cappaert and Joel Spark, a team of aerospace engineers, and Réka Kovács, a Microsoft Technology Specialist.
At the time of writing, the ArduSat project has already reached its initial goal of $35,000 USD, and, thanks to the overwhelming response, has upgraded to a new goal of $75,000 USD — which will allow for a larger satellite and better camera. Team Prometheus, the group of space exploration enthusiasts that was initially put together in 2008 by Monroe Lee King Jr. to pursue the N-Prize, has also pledged support for the project. The funds from Team Prometheus will provide the means for high-altitude tests for the ArduSat project prior to launch.
With a proven team of backers and room for many more, ArduSat appears ready to achieve its goal of bringing space to the masses. In other words, if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to start thinking about your first experiment in space.
Jason Taetsch is a freelance content writer with experience in tech writing, blogs, travel writing, pop culture and a range of promotional materials. Jason blogs via Contently.com.