Tag Archives: space

Smallest Satellite Ever Sent & Operated in Orbit By Breakthrough Starshot

Breakthrough Starshot is a research and engineering project by Breakthrough Initiatives to develop a proof-of-concept fleet of light sail spacecraft, named StarChip, capable of making the journey to the Alpha Centauri star system, 4.37 light-years away, at speeds between 15% and 20% of the speed of light, taking between 30 and 20 years to get there, respectively, and about 4 years to notify Earth of a successful arrival.

The project was announced on 12 April 2016 in an event in New York City by physicist and venture capitalist Yuri Milner and cosmologist Stephen Hawking who is serving as board member of the initiatives. Other board members include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The project has an initial funding of US$100 million to start research. Milner places the final mission cost at $5–10 billion, and estimates the first craft could launch around 2036.

It is now in orbit!

On June 23, the initiative sent the tiniest-ever satellites into orbit. Thanks to an Indian rocket, 6 of these satellites, as named as Sprites, went to space. Some of them were attached to larger satellites: : the Latvian Venta satellite and the Italian Max Valier satellite which will release the other four Sprites to orbit once communications are achieved.

In fact, each Sprite contains a computer processor, solar panels, a magnetometer, a gyroscope, and a radio for communicating with researchers on Earth and all in a size of  3.5×3.5 cm circuit board.
Until now, only one signal came from on of the 2 Sprites. Since the Max Valier hasn’t established a connection yet, the remaining Sprites didn’t detach. Usually the satellite should receive a command to release its cargo, and this is not possible without a functioning antenna.
Despite the humble results, the team is feeling victorious. Having these small and cheap satellites hovering over the space and doing part of the job is an achievement.
These tiny satellites can go along on a planetary exploration mission and start deployment once they get there. By using these satellites, the risk of sending large spacecrafts will diminish.
 To find more details about the Breakthrough Starshot, check out this official website.

A Tutorial For Launching Your First Balloon


Here is a nice tutorial about launching you first ballon into space. Also tracking device information is provided. Source is available here:

There are a lot of reasons to put together a weather balloon launch. Its a great project for a STEM /STEAM class, it requires planning, electronics and programming, and teamwork. It has a lot of great classroom applications, giving a tangible demo of aerodynamics, physics, meteorology, geology, and more. Additionally its a great way to get amateur radio into the classroom and get a new generation into this great hobby. Outside of classrooms there is citizen science to be had, gathering your own data of atmospheric conditions or testing devices in space like conditions. And finally there are the amazing photos and videos that can be made only with weather balloons. Above all launching weather balloons is a lot of fun and a great challenge.

A Tutorial For Launching Your First Balloon – [Link]

Rad tolerant megaAVR MCU for space & avionics applications


by Graham Prophet @ edn-europe.com:

Atmel ATmegaS128 AVR microcontrollers are now produced in space-grade quality, including latch-up immunity, ceramic packaging and extended temperature range for next-generation of space applications.

AtmegaS128 – the first µC Rad Tolerant device for Atmel – delivers full wafer lot traceability, 64-lead ceramic package (CQFP), space screening, space qualification according to QML and ESCC flow and total ionising dose up to 30 krad (300 Gy Si) for space applications. The ATMegaS128 is “latch up” immune thanks to a dedicated silicon process: SEL LET > 62.5Mev at 125°C, 8 MHz/3.3V. SEU to heavy ions is estimated to 10-3 error/device/day for Low Earth Orbit applications.

Rad tolerant megaAVR MCU for space & avionics applications – [Link]