The SpaceX CRS-1 Mission launched from Cape Canaveral on Sunday, October 7 at 7:35 PM CDT. A Falcon 9 rocket carried the Dragon spacecraft into orbit, where it docked with the ISS and stayed for a few weeks before returning to Earth. However, not all went well during the rocket’s ascent through the atmosphere.
Using GNU Radio with a custom receiving antenna may take longer to implement, but the end result can be closely tailored to the project’s needs while minimizing costs. Cheap hardware combined with free software ensures that the final cost of a ground station will be well below the high-end estimate of $1100. But can this low-cost approach achieve the fidelity and performance required to filter hundreds of Sprite signals sent from space, each powered solely by solar panels no wider than a fingernail?
DIY ground stations for receiving satellite signals can be as cheap as $20-$30 or as expensive as $1500, and in this case more expensive is not necessarily better. Sprites are small, powered only by a solar panel, and many of them will be sending signals from orbit at once. Making sure that all of them can communicate with the ground successfully requires carefully selected software and equipment, along with some smart radio tricks.
In the week leading up to the first test flight of the ArduSat sensor payload and flight computer, Jeroen and Joel from NanoSatisfi and Monroe from Team Prometheus converged in Lampasas, Texas, for preparations. But after a week of work, the flight was unable to execute as planned.
Earlier this summer I posted an introduction to ArduSat. At that time, NanoSatisfi’s Kickstarter was still in full swing. It’s now a couple months later, and I realize that I have not yet reported on the outcome of their campaign! There’s good news to report, as well as an exciting event taking place later this week.
Launch details have begun to arrive. According to Zac, KickSat’s launch vehicle has been named, bringing the project that much closer to a specific launch date. Now that KickSat has been slated for takeoff, the project’s timetable can focus around a specific launch window. And it turns out that the rocket that KickSat will be taking to space is quite an interesting one.