Monday, April 14, 2014

KickSat: A tiny open source spacecraft project

[Update 4/15:  launch scrubbed due to Helium leak on Monday 4/14, rescheduled for Friday 4/18.]
[Update 4/16:  K4TS sponsored one of the Sprites!]
[Update 4/18:  Falcon 9 Launched today so these are now on orbit with release in 16 days!]
[Update 4/20:  Kicksat is on orbit and packets have been received!]
[Update 5/14:  Kicksat re-entered.  Sprites did not deploy.]
[Update 2/6/15:  Kicksat 2 is planned, no launch date set yet.]

Friday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 lauched from the Cape in FL. (Follow it on  The launch was Friday 4/18/2014 at 3:25PM EDT.

Onboard are several microsats, each the size of a loaf of bread.  One is KickSat which contains 104 very, very small satellites called Sprites.  These tiny satellites are about the size of poker chips.

The Sprites are open source and the development environment is based on Wiring and Arduino, but using a microprocessor from TI (the Arduino uses an Atmel part).

Note, I wonder how they got away with being fully open source due to ITAR....

See this site for info on the development kit for the TI chips:  TI Launchpad

The Sprites are configured by multiple organizations and groups.  One was configured by the Rappahannock Valley Amateur Radio Club from Fredericksburg, VA ( -- K4TS, number 63 in the list of Sprites in this doc (one of my friends is a member of the club).

Amateur radio should be able to pickup the microsat and the Sprites. Info is here:  Radio-Info.

Also onboard was PhoneSat 2.5, a Linux (Android) phone in space.  It has yet to make contact (4/20).  For more info, see the dashboard.

Cool stuff and it IS ROCKET SCIENCE!

For those in FL (family, hint, hint), please post pics of the launch!

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