Captain’s Log, Stardate 11923.7

The Kickstarter project‘s funding period has closed successfully, which means that I (and over 100 others) have a little Sputnik destined for the sky. Twenty-six of those backers will be programming their Sprites before liftoff, myself included.

Some of the backers are individuals like myself, but others – such as the British Interplanetary Society and Kidz in Space – have designated their Sprites to be part of a fleet. Being part of a Sprite fleet adds an extra dimension to the endeavor because it opens the possibility of networked communication between the spacecraft. I’m looking forward to seeing how these groups decide to use their fleets.

Prototype solar cellsPrototype solar cells

The Cornell team spent the last couple of months improving the prototype design. The Sprites now carry more efficient solar cells. Additionally, a shortlist of on-board sensor candidates is being assembled. A basic Sprite contains only one sensor, a temperature sensor built in to its microcontroller unit (MCU). Adding a three-axis magnetometer or a gyroscope to the spacecraft would significantly extend its capabilities, making the information it sends back to Earth via radio transmissions more dynamic. The challenge lies in finding sensors that can be powered by the solar cells and are small enough to fit on the board.

So it’s official – this project is now in motion. Ladies and gentlemen, we have left stardock!

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