SunCube - Your Own Personal Satellite in Space for $1000
You could have your own satellite for just $1,000
Sending stuff to space is very expensive, so sometimes to think big you have to think small. With this approach in mind, Arizona State University students have developed the next generation of miniature satellites.
The team created SunCube FemtoSat, a 3-centimeter-cubed (1.1-inch-cubed) satellite that weighs about 35 grams (1.2 ounces). It has communication, data collection, and propulsion systems and it’s powered by tiny solar panels.
The team, led by assistant professor Jekan Thanga, also constructed a bigger version (3 x 3 x 9 centimeters, 100 grams) that includes some payload space for small experiments. The SunCubes are constructed with "off-the-shelf" parts, and the solar cells were made from scrap manufacturers selling at discount, making these tiny satellites incredibly cheap to construct.
“That’s part of our major goal – space for everybody,” Thanga said in a statement. “That’s how you invigorate a field… Getting more people into the technology, getting their hands on it.”
Based on current costs ($60,000 to 70,000 per kilo), you could send a FemtoSat to the International Space Station for $1,000 and to low-Earth orbit for $3,000. This might not sound affordable yet, but the rise of commercial space companies could make the costs drop.