Friday, July 30, 2010

Now, build your satellite and put it into orbit for $8K

A US company has taken the "do-it-yourself" concept to a completely new level - the firm is selling kits to build and fly small satellites for as much as 8,000 dollars.

Randa and Roderick Milliron, a Mojave, Calif.-based couple, are the brains behind the program they've named TubeSat. The duo have been developing a bare-bones, low-cost rocket system for the last 14 years.

The first of four suborbital test flights is slated for August and there are customers for those as well.

"The acceptance and enthusiasm has been overwhelming," Discovery News quoted Randa Milliron, chief executive of Interorbital Systems, as saying.

The customers include hobbyists and universities, including the Naval Postgraduate School in California, Morehead State University in Kentucky, and the University of Sydney in Australia.

"There's been a massive number of shelved experiments, caused by a dearth of low-cost launch systems. This is an opportunity for the academic community to fly affordably," Milliron said.

Interorbital's rocket, the Neptune, will place up to 32 TubeSats and 10 slightly larger off-the-shelf spacecraft called CubeSats into orbit about 192 miles above Earth.

Launches will take place from the island of 'Eua, located in the Kingdom of Tonga, in the South Pacific.