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Al Williams

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Embedded Systems.... In Space!

July 21, 2010

With apologies to the pigs in space, who doesn't want to fly some hardware or software in outer space? Although I've consulted to NASA a few times over my career, only two pieces of my software ever got to actually fly and they were both minor. The rest of my code was either ground-bound or were parts of projects that got the budget ax.

However, if I wanted to fly something myself, I could just finance it myself, right? You don't have to be Bill Gates or Richard Branson to afford a do it yourself satellite. Interorbital is offering a "TubeSat" kit. For about US$8000 you get enough material and plans to build a small satellite. That might seem steep, but included in the price is the actual launch to low Earth orbit! Its actually a bargain.

While US$8000 is a little out of my disposable income range, it isn't hard to image coming up with an idea that would warrant that investment or getting a small group of people together to finance it.

Although the space environment can be harsh, low Earth orbit isn't so bad when it comes to radiation effects and I would think building hardware for a TubeSat is well within the range of many small companies and sophisticated experimenters.

What would you launch? Leave a comment and share your ideas.

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