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Kicksat Sprites hitch a ride into space

February 22, 2014 - UNITED STATES

A shoebox-sized spacecraft containing 100 tiny satellites will hitch a ride on an International Space Station-bound Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon C6 supply capsule, launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida

Schoolchildren and space enthusiasts own the postage-stamp sized satellites in the 6.6 lb spacecraft. The mission, called KickSat, is funded by crowdsourcing and takes advantage of components developed for smart phones. It was conceived by Cornell University graduate student Zac Manchester to make "it easy enough and affordable enough for anyone to explore space."

Sprites are designed by each owner. Some will send back data on phenomena like radiation. Others might do nothing before disintegrating, perhaps in a matter of days. A challenge has been designing the mission so that the satellites, called Sprites, pose no risk to the array of communication and other satellites in low earth orbit.

Kickstarter

KickSat: The smallest spacecraft in orbit (BBC 28 Jan 2014)

Date written/update: 2014-02-22