Southern Stars all set to launch a crowd-funded nano-satellite SkyCube

Souther stars An inspiring start-up Southern Stars has built a crowd-funded nano-satellite called SkyCube that will launch into orbit in 2013. SkyCube was financed by thousands of sponsors and mobile app users around the world.

SkyCube has been built and delivered to NASA and is scheduled to launch on November 28th, 2013. SkyCube will deploy from ISS approximately two weeks later. At the end of its 90-day mission, SkyCube will inflate an onboard balloon which will make it visible to unaided eyes, and de-orbit the satellite cleanly through atmospheric drag, ending the mission in a fiery grand finale that avoids any buildup of space debris.

Once in orbit, SkyCube will let you send simple broadcasts – “tweets from space” – that amateur radio operators around the world can hear, and anyone with a smart phone can follow. Users will also be able to request images of Earth from cameras in the satellite.

Skycube says that it is about changing space exploration from something reserved for governments, corporations, and billionaires into an arena that is affordable and accessible by everyone. It’s about inspiring a new generation to take risks and accept challenges. It’s about acting collectively, sharing risks and expenses, to achieve something together that none of us could have accomplished alone. It’s not (just) a science project – it’s a social project.

“We want to create a space exploration experience that everyone can be a part of,” explains Tim DeBenedictis, founder of Southern Stars, a leading provider of mobile apps for amateur astronomers. “We are developing a nano-satellite, and mobile apps to go with it, as the focus for a global education and public outreach campaign.”

The SkyCube mobile app will be available for iOS and Android; amateur astronomers can also tune in from any web browser. A basic sponsorship to participate in the mission is only $1, which allows the sponsor to tweet a single message into space.

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