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CubeSat

— 3D Printing

First-ever 3D-printed space telescopes nearing completion

Telescopes are very simple devices in theory, but getting one to work in space means a complex assembly of mechanical parts that is expensive, difficult to build, and hard to operate in the hostile environment outside the Earth’s atmosphere. To simplify things, NASA aerospace engineer Jason Budinoff is working on the first space telescope made entirely from 3D-printed parts. Read More
— Space

How do you put a big antenna on a tiny satellite? Make it inflatable

CubeSats are certainly in the process of revolutionizing the satellite industry. They can serve many of the same functions as full-sized satellites, but at a size of 10 x 10 x 10 cm (3.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 in) and a mass of under 1.33 kg (2.9 lb), they’re much cheaper to build and get into orbit. With that smaller overall size, however, comes smaller onboard antennas. These severely limit CubeSats’ communications range, restricting them to fairly low orbits. That may be about to change, though, as MIT is developing larger, inflatable antennas. Read More
— Space

NIAC 2013 Phase I winners showcases futuristic aerospace concepts

A dozen inventors have received a chance to demonstrate the potential for their pet space projects as winners of NASA's 2013 Innovative Advanced Concepts Program Phase I awards. The award winners were chosen based on their potential to transform future aerospace missions by enabling either breakthroughs in aerospace capabilities or entirely new missions. Read on for a closer look at some of the most promising proposals with a view to how they would work, and where the tricky bits might be hiding. Read More
— Space

Kickstarter project developing micro plasma thrusters to send CubeSats on interplanetary missions

CubeSats are one of the wonders of our day. They allow projects with small budgets and smaller equipment to access low Earth orbit (LEO) at achievable costs. Seeing greater potential for these miniaturized modular satellites, Professor Benjamin Longmire of the University of Michigan is heading a team to install a miniature plasma thruster system into a 3U CubeSat, enabling the vehicle to leave LEO and cruise much of the Solar System. Funding for the project is being sought through Kickstarter. Read More
— Space

Humans hack space in the International Space Apps Challenge

Given a set of problems related to space exploration and a 48-hour deadline, 9,000 people in 80 locations around the world created over 600 solutions. The International Space Apps Challenge, sponsored by NASA and other international space agencies, offered up massive amounts of data and other resources to teams of hackers who responded with creative solutions. The public now has the chance to view these solutions online and vote for their favorites on each project's official page. Gizmag set out to find the best projects related to data visualization and education, space exploration and satellite inventiveness, green technology, and remotely-operated vehicles. Read More
— Space

ESA develops "snap-proof" space tether

This month, the University of Helsinki and the European Space Agency (ESA) will test a new space tether that has less chance of snapping under the stresses of operating in orbit. Installed aboard Estonia’s ESTCube-1 cubesat, the new tether is scheduled to be launched with ESA’s Proba-V satellite atop a Vega rocket as part of an experiment in developing an electric solar sail. Read More
— Space

STRaND-1 – world's first smartphone-based satellite set to launch

The University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) are set to launch the world’s first smartphone-based satellite. Built around a Google Nexus One smartphone running on the Android operating system, the STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) satellite will also be the U.K.’s first CubeSat to go into space. Read More
— Space

Microthruster ion drive gives tiny satellites a boost

Small-scale satellites show a lot promise, but unless they have equally small-scale thrusters they’re pretty limited in what they can do. Unfortunately conventional thrusters are heavy and take up a lot of valuable space, but a penny-sized rocket engine developed at MIT holds the prospect of not only increasing the capabilities of miniature satellites, but of combating space junk as well. Read More
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