Open source CubeSats satellites go into orbit

From next week it will be possible to run science projects on the world’s first open-source satellites.

ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-X were launched to the International Space Station on 3 August aboard a Japanese resupply vehicle which will arrive tomorrow.

New Scientist reports the 10cm volume CubeSats contain an array of devices including cameras, spectrometers and a Geiger counter.

The satellites will then be deployed using a robotic arm and put into orbit around Earth.

Since there will be no need for a dedicated launch vehicle the satellites will be on the cheap.

Chris Wake of NanoSatisfi, which built and will operate the satellites, said that no one has given people access to satellites in the same way before.

The launch was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, with backers buying some of the satellites’ time slots to run experiments.

Customers will also be able to program controls on the satellites and run experiments for three days for $125, or for a week for $250.

ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-X run the Arduino open source software which will let anyone write code for an app, game or research project that uses the on-board instruments.

Initial projects includes tracking meteorites and making a 3D model of Earth’s magnetosphere.

The first two satellites will orbit for three to seven months before burning up as they fall to Earth. The plan is to get as many of the cube satellites up as possible and reach half a million students.