ArduSat is preparing to launch a small satellite, featuring Arduino circuit boards, into space — enabling people to pay to run their own programs on it.
We’ve seen a few startups taking advantage of the open source Arduino circuit boards, using the devices for printing text onto coffee foam or building controller creation kits. In what is probably the most ambitious Arduino project we’ve seen, ArduSat is preparing to launch a small satellite into space that can be programmed by anybody. The brainchild of a team of Masters program students at the International Space University in France, the project will send into space a 10cm x 10cm x 10cm satellite, equipped with 25 sensors – including GPS, accelerometers and spectrometers – three cameras and Arduino circuit boards. Once in position, paying customers can book time using the satellite either with their own custom-built programs for scientific research or just to control its location and take pictures of the earth. Those designing their own programs can upload the code to ArduSat, who will test it on a replica located on the ground before sending it to the satellite. Any data gathered is sent back to the customer via email once their time slot has ended. Currently on Kickstarter, the lowest pledge to gain access to the satellite is USD 150, which enables users to take up to 15 pictures. A USD 300 pledge gives donors the ability to broadcast a personal message from space, while USD 325 and upwards awards pledgers three days or more to run their own experiments. The ArduSat is expected to be up and running by July 2013, having already achieved its funding goal. The ArduSat is the first example of an attempt to make an aspect of space exploration affordable for the average person, although not surprisingly prices are still fairly high. The team explain that large donations could bring the end cost down; investors – one to get involved in?