Most of the thousand or so operational satellites in orbit are multi-million-dollar machines that provide major industries with scientific research, global positioning or military espionage. Twenty-five-year-old Tom Walkinshaw, however, hopes to prove that satellites are not the preserve of leviathan space agencies, and that, for a comparatively small sum ($20,000), the workaday enthusiast can build and launch a fully functioning satellite of their own. One year old next January, his company PocketQube Shop provides the basic materials for doing this, most importantly the PocketQube structure itself – a tiny, 5cm³ casing made from aerospace-grade aluminium – which houses each satellite’s components.
Satellite imaging has revolutionized our knowledge of the Earth, with detailed images of nearly every street corner. But Planet Labs’ Will Marshall says we can do better and go faster — by getting smaller. He introduces his tiny satellites — no bigger than 10 by 10 by 30 centimeters — that, when launched in a cluster, provide high-res images of the entire planet, updated daily.
Days after the European Space Agency made history by landing a robot on a comet, its British counterpart has announced a funding boost for space exploration. The UK Space Agency revealed the details at Airbus’ Stevenage research centre – which built systems used on Europe’s Rosetta comet mission, and is now working on a mission to Mars.
The pioneering Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering was launched by Loughborough College this year in association with the National Space Academy and the University of Leicester, who have been asked to help with the Indian government’s space launch plans.
The highly successful 16+ Space Engineering course, in association with the National Space Academy and offered nowhere else in the UK, is now in its third year and Loughborough College Head of Technology Dr Martin Killeen told BBC Radio Leicester’s Manish Vermeer how both programmes have a crucial part to play in helping Leicestershire build on its central role in the expanding UK and international space economy.
Second year space engineering student Nam Vu discusses his current project, designing a robotic snake which can travel on the surface of Mars. Fahima Hassan and Mansi Joshi describe the workshops they hold to get young people interested in space and science and Ed Bridge talks about the course content and the range of options it offers him for future work and study.
“Most satellite missions require weeks or even months to produce data of the quality that we seem to be getting from the first few days of RapidScat,” said RapidScat Project Scientist Ernesto Rodriguez of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, which built and manages the mission.
“We have been very lucky that within the first days of operations we have already been able to observe a developing tropical cyclone.”
The system will go live in 2017, when its parent company Iridium Communications Inc finishes installing 66 next-generation satellites plus spares that will provide real-time data to air traffic control centers.
While Aireon’s system might not have prevented the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished from radar on March 8 and is presumed to have crashed, killing 239 people, it could have vastly improved the search.