Small Sat

Putting the Raspberry Pi into Orbit with a 3D Printed Satellite

A few months ago I attended the Small Satellite Conference at Utah State University. This annual gathering has been a mainstay of the small satellite community for almost thirty years. During the pre-conference workshop on cubesats Craig Kief, one of the directors of the COSMIAC research centre at the University of New Mexico, talked about how the Maker Movement and the open hardware we have built was making its way into the traditionally hidebound aerospace industry.

After his talk I sat down with Craig Kief and Brian Zufelt, also from COSMIAC, to talk about their plans not just to fly commercial off-the-shelf boards like the Raspberry Pi into orbit, but to 3D print the satellite that’s going to take it there.

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The coast of northern Scotland taken during last year’s competition.  (Credit: Barry Fraser, Cameron Fraser)

The Global Space Balloon Challenge

During the course of one weekend in April last year 60 different teams, hailing from 18 countries, and 6 continents, flew balloons to the edge of space in the first ever Global Space Balloon Challenge (GSBC).

The people who built the balloons came from all walks of life—from elementary schools students in the States, to university students in Brazil, and enthusiastic amateurs from places as far flung as Hong Kong and Australia.

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PhoneSat 1.0 during a high-altitude balloon test.

Want a Free Trip to Orbit With NASA?

One of the initiatives introduced by President Obama today at the White House Maker Faire is an “announcement of opportunity” from NASA for CubeSat developers—intended to broaden the reach of existing programs to people who have no previous experience building hardware intended for space. The call is aimed directly at the 21 “rookie states” with no CubeSat presence, and will leverage the Space Grant network of colleges and universities.

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