Jul 11, 2013

For Just $250 a Week You Can Rent Your Very Own Satellite

On August 4, a resupply mission is scheduled to take off for the International Space Station carrying a satellite for hire with it. It's actually a nanosatellite, since it's only 10 centimeters wide, and it's yours to use if you've got the cash.

Dubbed "ArduSat," the soon-to-be-launched satellite will connect with the servers at NanoSatisfi, the Kickstarter-funded company that's operating it, and provide students and space geeks alike the chance to do whatever they want up in space. ArduSat is outfitted with cameras, an ambient light sensor, a magnetometer and a Geiger counter, so the sky's the limit (heh) when it comes to the sorts of experiments you can run from the ground. NanoSatisfi also sets customers up with a control panel on the ground, so that they can change the mission as you go. The best part is that it will only cost about $250 a week to rent time with the ArduSat.

But what can one do with a flying satellite, you ask? Well, uses for the cameras are pretty obvious. Beyond that, the makers of ArduStat drew up a list of possibilities that's divided into three categories: science, engineering and entertainments. Some highlights include tracking meteorites by tuning into the radio stations reflected by the meteors' tails, writing algorithms to make the camera take different kinds of photos based on factors like gamma radiation and exposure to the sun, and even mapping Earth's magnetic field. All this fun for less than half of what a monthly Manhattan studio rental costs.

The existence of a satellite for hire is more meaningful than running a bunch of experiments in space. It reflects the imminent future of space exploration—even if it's only exploring a few miles above Earth's surface. As more and more affordable options for going to space show up on the market, the possibility exists for more people to get involved in space research, even elementary school students. While conventional satellites cost between $500 million and $2 billion, NanoSatisfi plans on spending much less than $1 million on purchasing and launching ArduSat into orbit, and over the course of its two year lifespan, the company expects to serve over 4,000 customers. More here.

1 comment:

YeamieWaffles said...

This is insane! I mean I get that 250 a week would be very expensive to maintain but for your own satellite it has to be worth it, the only thing I'm worried about is overpopulation of satellites above planet earth, that would suck!