I am the founder of http://pocketspacecraft.com
I am a physicist. Working in meteorology and ocean ventilation models
and tools. Voyager and ROSAT analysis. Att Imperial College.
Software developer, computer scientist. Aerospace. Co created the
Founded in 2010, operations in China, Isle of Man, UK, US.
Space is bug and relatively unexplored. Missions are expensive and
infrequent, funding is tight, missions are risk averse, it is scary to
try really new ideas, processors are often ten years old because we
know all the bugs there.
Goal: before I retire (say in the next 25 years) I want to send a
spacecraft to orbit and/or land on the surface of 'every' body in the
solar system. Every is too much, but maybe one million objects?
We need a pocket space craft, that individuals can buy. Personal
space age: everyone can get involved.
We want to explore. Consumer projects: how are you going to support
that, on that scale? We want instant gratification for people, but it
normally takes years to get something up in the air. Work together.
Help different communities involved. If you do something good for the
science community, your project may be able to get on board a mission
to Mars. Lots of legal hurdles, insurance. Small space crafts, but
Video games are a good metric for this. People are prepared to pay 50
dollars for that. Lots of challenges there.
What helps, is open source. An Open Source Space System is being
worked on. This is done by individuals in their spare time, but also
by big names in space. Bring the International CubeSat Consortium in
Using open source actually helps against some of the legal hurdles,
making you exempt from them.
The CubeSat standard defines a standard space craft. One unit is en
by ten by ten centimeter, using 1 Watt, 1 kilogram. You can combine a
few. About 50k dollar to launch one. That was started ten years
ago. About 70 made in that time, and about 70 in the last six
months. So it is being picked up. Much much more planned for next
year. Launched from the international space station.
How is it possible? Moore's law. A KickSat, much smaller than
CubeSat, already has more computer power than Voyager had, so don't
Standard 3 unit CubeSat launch is available today. Not tied to any
launch vehicle or nation. We need to get it close to where we want to
get (moon, planet). Then we deploy and do whatever we want (except
introducing bacteria, so there are rules).
Pocket Spacecraft prototype, 32-96 millimeter diameter, less than 50
micrometer thick, 10-100 milligram, 5-100 MIPS, up to 100 GB storage,
optical communications. Can be manually produced.
Long term goal: print space craft in space. Design your space craft,
send the instructions in the direction of the printer in orbit around
Mars, wait 20 to 40 minutes depending on time of year, and you can
launch your space craft.
There is now Open Mission Control software, and Pocket Mission Control
for your Android.
You need to be able to talk to these space craft, via ground stations.
We can do that amateur radio based. See http://mygroundstations.com
But with a credit card and some convincing you can rent NASA
communications by the hour and use the same stuff that still talks to
Voyager, at 80 light hours distance.
But there also is the LOFAR network, for radio astronomy, which you
could use to pinpoint your space craft. Lots of data, several Peta
byte for 15 minutes. Expensive, but prices will drop: Moore's law
again. There is an awful lot to do, but that is fine.
Where do you want to explore today?
Standards and info:
50 percent of CubeSats fail. But 50 percent of large space projects
fail as well. Interesting, isn't it?
Space junk? We are responsible about that, making sure we do no harm,
otherwise we may no longer be allowed in space.