SkyCube, the first satellite scheduled to reach orbit sponsored by social media, microfinance, and mobile apps, is just 24 hours from the end of its crowdsourced fundraising campaign on kickstarter.com
The project reached its original funding goal of $82.5K on August 30th, 2012, and is now just a few thousand dollars away from its new goal of $110K to build a second copy of the SkyCube satellite.
A backup SkyCube will give the project a second chance to reach orbit, in the unlikely case of a technical malfunction with the Falcon 9 rocket next spring. In the much more likely scenario that the launch succeeds, the backup will provide double the original capacity for broadcasts and images from space.
SkyCube is a 10x10x10 cm CubeSat scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral in Q1 2013 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Once in orbit, from an altitude of more than 350 miles, it will broadcast sponsors' messages as "tweets from space," out at the speed of light at 915 Mhz across the universe and simultaneously across the Internet, using the satellite's twitter stream.
SkyCube also carries 3 low-resolution cameras that will let sponsors request wide-field images of the Earth from orbit, which – once radioed to ground – will be sent directly back to sponsors' mobile phones. Capture continents, hurricanes, city lights at night, and experience the beauty of the Earth from space from a satellite that you helped put into orbit.
At the end of the mission, SkyCube will inflate a 10-foot balloon. That ballon will make the satellite visible to the unaided eye as a bright star crossing the sky – and also help eliminate space junk by rapidly dragging the satellite out of orbit. SkyCube will in fact be the first CubeSat mission to deliberately de-orbit itself when its mission ends, setting a precedent for future missions to keep the space environment clean and free of space debris.
SkyCube's kickstarter campaign has already achieved some notable firsts:
• More sponsors (2500) than any other satellite related project.
• More than 11,000 "Likes" on Facebook.
• Widespread media coverage, including ABC News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Huffington Post
• A public endoresement by George Takei, who played Captain Sulu on Star Trek, and now has over 2.5 million Facebook fans.
Technically, the project has already achieved many of its required milestones since the project began:
• Demonstrated long-range radio communication using the actual radio that willl be carried abord the spacecraft during a mountaintop test in Colorado
• Demonstrated functioning cameras, and radio transmission of complete images from the satellite to ground radio.
• Demonstrated the balloon's inflation mechanism working both in atmosphere and in a vaccuum chamber.
• Submitted the required FCC, NASA, and NOAA licensing applications for the mission.
MacTech magazine was the first corporate SkyCube sponsor, contributing $25K worth of support. The general public is still welcome to become a part of this historic mission -- with just one day remaining. Go to www.skycube.org for more information.