For the average consumer, a trip on a commercial space flight is going to be out of reach, but Kickstarter project KickSat is offering you the ability to transmit a message from your very own satellite in orbit.
Cornell University graduate student Zac Manchester wants to offer funders the opportunity to send their very own transmitter called a "Sprite" to space for the cost of a $300 pledge.
Zac is building a CubeSat, a standardized miniature satellite used for space flight, to carry hundreds or even thousands of Sprites up to low Earth orbit. Once the KickSat is in orbit, Zachary will transmit a signal to open the Sprite housing and release the spring-loaded transmitters into orbit.
UPDATE: Each sprite will be programmed and transmit a user defined four character text message from orbit.
"We can't transmit anything obscene (by law), so yes, we'll have to censor a message if it, for example, spells out a "four letter word," Zac tells LAUNCH via email.
Then, from the ground using worldwide network of amateur ground stations (GENSO) he plans on monitoring the transmissions from the Sprites and track data about how long each Sprite stays in orbit and how they hold up to the environment in space.
LAUNCH has contacted Zac for comment about the launch. We will update this story if we receive a response.
Don't worry about space debris, because of the size of the Sprites, Zachary says that they will burn up returning to the Earth's atmosphere after a few days or weeks after launch, before reaching the ground.
However, the launch of KickSat is not guaranteed. Once the project is funded, Zac plans on apply for a free launch through NASA's ELaNa CubeSat program. But, if the project has more than 300 people funding their own Sprites -- $120K -- Zac says they would be able to purchase their own commercial launch.
KickSat is looking to raise $30K to build and launch the satellite, but with more than 44 days left until funding it has already received $42K from 131 backers.
For a mere $25 you can have your name etched on the side of KickSat and help fund the launch. Those who contribute $1K will get their very own Sprite launched into orbit with their initials on the device and transmit their own signal.
One lucky backer who pledged $10K or more will get to push the launch button.
The Sprite is about the size of a few stamps and is powered by solar cells. These devices will be stacked on top of each other and released from the KickSat once it establishs low Earth orbit.
The KickSat will be loaded with Sprites, and once it achieves orbit, a signal will be sent to the satellite to open the hatch and the Sprites will be deployed.
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