Hacking space without profit or secrecy

Reader [Jacob] tipped us off about a project the aims to make the final frontier open source. The mission of the Copenhagen Suborbitals is to launch a man into space. What they’re not interested in is turning a profit, carrying hazmat or weapons, or keeping what they learn to themselves.

Surprisingly enough, isn’t this the next logical step after hobbyists send cameras into space? This team thinks so and they’ve been hard at work building and testing rockets. With the last round of successful tests behind them, they’ve paved the way for a launch of the first round of the campaign on June first. Da duh daaaah da duh duh da daaaaa

Robots in space

SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites) are experimental robots made at MIT for the purpose of testing robot locomotion in space. As you can see in the video above, they are capable of maneuvering pretty well. They seem to hold formation fairly tightly. They are using compressed CO2, through 12 different thrusters for positioning. They should be capable of autonomously navigating around each other as well as docking to one another.

Live high altitude balloon launch

[Terry] is planning to launch his high altitude balloon within the next few days. As we’ve seen before he has gone for a general setup – GPS tracking, environment sensors including temperature and humidity and pressure, and 2 on board cameras – all with an expected height of about 100,000 feet. What makes this project unique is the transmission of live telemetry data to a Google Maps or Google Earth interface.

The planned launch date is Sunday the 24th about 00:00 UTC so long as the Civil Aviation Safety Approval for the launch is passed.

As a final note [Terry] wanted to let inspiring balloon launchers to check out the UK High Altitude Society – who have been an invaluable source of information.

RepRap – in space! (sorta)

We aren’t exactly sure how or even why you would need to RepRap in space, but we guess their team needed something to do while designing and printing their next version. They figure that if they can print completely upside down in -1G and then upside up in 1G, that 0G hopefully wont be a problem; hopefully being the keyword.

Even if it isn’t true space printing, the concept opens several new doors. Instead of having risky rocket or shuttle launches when the secondary air oscillator on the IIS is struck by an asteroid, print a new one. Or perhaps, the ocean floor research facilities’ external hull is punctured by an asteroid, print a new one. Or the HaD office chair breaks because [Mike] was hit by an asteroid, print a new one.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves here. But alongside circuit board printing, perhaps in-home fabrication is the way of the future. What would you like to print? Before you answer, yes, we will release the [Mike©] plans.

[Thanks Julius]

Pictures from space for $150


Ever wanted to be able to launch a balloon into space, track its location via GPS, take some photographs of the curvature of the earth, and recover the balloon, all for the low low cost of $150? [Oliver Yeh] sent in his teams project, Icarus, which does just that. The group of MIT students found that they could use a weather balloon filled with helium to reach heights of around 20 miles above the earth;  their particular balloon achieved 93,000 feet (17.5 miles). Then, utilizing only off the shelf components with no soldering, conjured up a GPS tracker using a Motorola i290 Prepaid Cellphone. They then used a Canon A470 loaded with the chdk open source firmware to take pictures. After seeing the results of their launch, the team hopes that this could rejuvenate interests in science and the arts.

Balloon based satellite


This project provides an opportunity to conduct near space experiments. The flight computer, BalloonSat Extreme, is controlled by a BASIC Stamp 2pe. The complete BOM with PCB artwork is provided. There is enough hardware to control cameras, servos, a Gps, and five digital I/O. The computer is also equipped with a 12 bit ADC to log experiment results. The device seems limited to 30KB of storage. Though the author suggests this memory limitation is more than adequate, we are wondering if an implementation of the Nyquist sampling theorem is in use at all. For further reading the author has provided information regarding Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning.

[via adafruit]

Tiny cubic PC

We’ve been watching the progress of the Space Cube since 2004, but PC Pro managed to get their hands on it first. Developed by the Shimafuji Corporation, it comes with 16 megabytes of flash memory and a version of Red Hat is run off a 1 gigabyte CompactFlash card. The design of the Space Cube is pretty minimal, but it’s got the basics down, from a USB port to a VGA output and a D-SUB RS232 input, and even an Ethernet port. The most interesting thing about it is the Space Wire port, which is a proprietary interface use by NASA, the ESA, and JAXA for outer space. Unfortunately for working hackers, this ingenious micro-computer will set you back about £1,500.

[via NOTCOT]