Monday, August 3, 2009
It looks as though Interorbital Systems is attempting to make their way into the personal space market. They have released a "TubeSat Personal Satellite Kit" on their website. As an alternative to the popular CubeSat, which many experimental amateur radio satellites have been constructed in, the main difference is that the price of launch seems to be included in the costs of the kit.
Apparently the satellites will be placed into a self decaying orbit around 310km above the Earths surface and stay in orbit for several weeks. They will then burn up in the earths atmosphere. The first launch is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010. The company gives possibly ideas for use as simple "HAM radio" satellites among a host of possible uses.
Interorbital Systems plans to launch 32 TubeSats per month on their Neptune 30 rocket. They will be released according to a reprogrammed timing sequence which prevents the satellites from clustering too close together.
This seems pretty neat but if you spend a few minutes on the website, there are plans to launch a manned orbital flight in 2010 on their Neptune 4000 rocket. Problem is, the Neptune 4000 rocket hasn't been built yet nor has the Neptune 30! They are still under development. More information can be found at the Interorbital Systems modular rocket page. Judge for yourself but I don't think I would trust that close of a deadline. Also, the ticket into space is offered at a discounted price of $250,000 dollers as compared to $5 million for the normal ticket. There is a full refund two years after the flight as a promotion. Personally, this sounds too good to be true. Why two years? Enough for the company to fall through?
While the $8,000 personal satellite sounds awesome it might be a better sell if they actually put the rocket into space first to prove they can do it. For now it seems like a start up space program in the Mojave Desert. It will be interesting to see what this company does in the next few years. If they TubeSat PS kits work then I think that it will be a huge success, especially with Universities!