UK Radio Ham Plans Lunar CubeSat

Pocket Spacecraft

Pocket Spacecraft

UK radio amateur Michael Johnson M0MJJ is raising funds on Kickstarter for a CubeSat that aims to travel to the Moon.

Michael - Founder

Michael – Founder

The Pocket Spacecraft project hopes to raise at least £290,000 ($442,000) to fund a 3U (30x10x10cm) CubeSat. It 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 release a batch of the wafer thin Scout satellites into Earth orbit and deploy another batch of the Scout satellites into Lunar orbit.

Melania - Microgravity Experiment Lead

Melania – Microgravity Experiment Lead

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.”

Watch the video and read more about the Pocket Spacecraft project at
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1677943140/send-your-own-pocket-spacecraft-on-a-mission-to-th

Pocket Spacecraft is believed to be the first UK satellite project to use Kickstarter. These 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 and Joel Spark KK6ANB are on the team of the ham radio satellite project ArduSat. They managed to raise donations of $106,330 in just 30 days.

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.

SkyCube to use 915 MHz CubeSat Ground Station Network

Tim DeBenedictis and Anna Vital with the SkyCube satellite

Tim DeBenedictis and Anna Vital with the SkyCube satellite

The Huffington Post reports on the imaging CubeSat SkyCube that will be utilizing a network of 915 MHz ground stations operated by the US Navy, the Boeing Corporation, and the University of Utah for CubeSat projects.

Images taken by SkyCube will be transmitted by a 57.6 kbps modem that was developed for CubeSats using the 915 MHz band.

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PongSats – 1000 Student Projects to the Edge of Space

A PongSat

On September 22 it’s planned to send 1000 student projects built into PongSats (ping pong balls) to the edge of space.

These experiments and projects are made by those in kindergarten, university professors, high school science classes and home schools kids.

PongSats on the Edge of Space – Image credit JP Aerospace

Projects range from plant seeds to filling a PongSat with a marshmallow. At 100,000 feet (30 km) the marshmallow puffs up completely filling the ball. Then it freeze dries. The student gets to hold in her hand the direct results of traveling the top of the atmosphere.

The launch of the PongSats will take place from the Black Rock desert in Nevada. The vehicles that carry them are called High Rack. They are made of foam and carbon fiber. There are four separate telemetry links to the High Rack tracking it during the flight. At the end of the flight the balloon is released and the High Rack descends by parachute.

It will take four High Racks, each with its own balloon to carry the thousand ping pong balls.

Watch PongSats

This project is using Kickstarter to raise donations http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1569698176/1000-student-projects-to-the-edge-of-space

More on PongSats and MiniCubes at JP Aerospace, a volunteer-based DIY Space Program http://www.jpaerospace.com/

Kickstarter is also being used by the satellite project SkyCube http://www.uk.amsat.org/8955