UK radio ham’s Lunar CubeSat to go ahead

Pocket Spacecraft

Pocket Spacecraft

Michael Johnson M0MJJ gave a presentation on his Pocket Spacecraft: Mission to the Moon project to the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium held in July at Guildford.

Michael - Founder

Michael – Founder

He aimed to raise funding for the project by using the Kickstarter crowd-funding website.

The 60 fund raising period ended on August 26, 2013 and it fell short of target raising pledges for £69,079 ($107,735) out of the £290,000 ($452,284) goal. However, it appears that thanks to donations from other sources, the Pocket Spacecraft: Mission to the Moon is still going ahead.

Update #6 on the Kickstarter page says:

“More than 350 private individuals, universities and companies have backed the project via Kickstarter so far, but what we weren’t expecting are the amazing direct offers of financial support and support in kind that are too big or unable to be pledged via Kickstarter. Thanks to this support from private individuals, companies, government bodies, non-profits and others, we’re excited to be able to confirm that Pocket Spacecraft: Mission to the Moon will go ahead!”

Melania - Microgravity Experiment Lead

Melania – Microgravity Experiment Lead

The plan is that a 3U CubeSat will carry Pocket Spacecraft known as ‘Scouts’ to the Moon. A ‘Scout’ is a disk with flexible electronics, smaller than a CD, containing a transceiver, antenna and solar cells. The CubeSat should first release a batch of the wafer thin Scout satellites into Earth orbit and then deploy another batch of the Scout satellites into Lunar orbit.

It is understood the mission plans to use the 435 MHz and 2400 MHz bands.

The Kickstarter page says “If you are, or would like to be, a radio amateur, we’ll show you how to communicate directly with your spacecraft in space when it is nearby using inexpensive UHF and S-band equipment. Communication at (cis-)lunar distances is more expensive (typically requiring 5-24m+ steerable dishes), but available to some clubs and enthusiasts.”



Pocket Spacecraft is believed to be the first UK satellite project to have used Kickstarter. Several USA satellite projects have already successfully raised money on Kickstarter:

Radio ham Zac Manchester KD2BHC used Kickstarter to raise $74,586 in donations to fund the development and deployment of 200 amateur radio KickSat sprite satellites expected to take place later this year.

Radio amateurs Jeroen Cappaert KK6BLQ, Joel Spark KK6ANB and Jonathan Oxer VK3FADO are on the team of the ham radio satellite project ArduSat. They managed to raise donations of $106,330 in just 30 days.

Tim DeBenedictis and Anna Vital with the SkyCube satellite

Tim DeBenedictis and Anna Vital with the SkyCube satellite

SkyCube which will transmit on 915 MHz in the 902-928 MHz amateur radio band raised $116,890.

Kickstarter is not just about raising large sums of money, for example Sandy Antunes used Kickstarter to raise $2,780 to buy a ham radio transceiver and antennas to create an amateur radio satellite ground station Calliope.

Read Pocket Spacecraft Update #6 at

Kickstarter page

Daily Mail article–monitor-it-travels-space.html