Resources, pt. 1

Many of the resources I’ve used and referenced over the course of the project are spread throughout the posts as links and text. In this series I’ll collect and describe some of the most important project resources thus far.

Today focuses on resources for learning more about the KickSat project itself.

Learning about the KickSat project

Space Systems Design Studio

The Space Systems Design Studio is the home of the Sprite microcontroller and the KickSat project. It’s “part of the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University.” The studio studies the physics affecting spacecraft with the goal of doing more with less. Ergo projects like the Sprite Spacecraft (a “chip satellite”), eddy current actuators (positioning and interaction between spacecraft without physical contact), and CubeSat propulsion systems for allowing small-scale devices to explore the solar system. This site presents some general information about the people and organizations behind KickSat.


KickSat isn’t the first CubeSat. Many universities, small organizations, and even individuals have sent their own CubeSats into space. FUNcube – a UK amateur radio educational satellite – is a particularly notable example. The program has been under development by a volunteer group of radio amateurs, engineers, and scientists for the past two years and just recently secured a launch with a Netherlands-based rocket company. The craft will liftoff in the third quarter of this year from a launch facility in southern Russia.

As an educational satellite, FUNcube will transmit signals meant to be easily received by students all over the world, from grade schools up to universities. In order to be successful in its outreach, the team had to ensure the transmissions’ accessibility. So, even though the CubeSat itself is still being finalized, the team has already designed and manufactured a USB dongle that will allow anyone with a computer to receive the FUNcube data transmitted from orbit (I describe the USB receiver in more detail in this post).

This project is important to KickSat because it essentially paves the way. The problem of receiving transmissions from over 100 Sprites is a little more complicated than receiving transmissions from a single FUNcube. However, the FUNcube Dongle means that the KickSat teams doesn’t have to start at square one.

The Kickstarter and WordPress sites

The Kickstarter page is where it all started, and it’s the place to go for KickSat updates (of course, any updates there will be reported here as well!). Head over to the WordPress site if you feel the urge to donate to the project.

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