Launch Your Own Personal Satellite for $8,000 USD

by Nancy Atkinson on August 3, 2009

A TubeSat.  Credit:

A TubeSat. Credit:

Want to launch something into space? You can now do just that for only $8,000 USD. The rocket company Interorbital Services (IOS) is offering their “TubeSat Personal Satellite Kit” that can carry 0.75-kg into orbit. The price includes a launch into low Earth orbit on an IOS NEPTUNE 30 launch vehicle to 310 kilometers (192 miles) above the Earth. TubeSats are designed to be orbit-friendly, and not contribute to orbital debris by being in a self-decaying orbit. Launches are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Interorbital says a TubeSat is designed to function as a basic satellite bus or as a simple stand-alone satellite. Each TubeSat kit includes the satellite’s structural components, safety hardware, solar panels, batteries, power management hardware and software, transceiver, antennas, microcomputer, and the required programming tools. With these components alone, the builder can construct a satellite that puts out enough power to be picked up on the ground by a hand-held HAM radio receiver. Simple applications include broadcasting a repeating message from orbit or programming the satellite to function as a private orbital HAM radio relay station. These are just two examples. The TubeSat also allows the builder to add his or her own experiment or function to the basic TubeSat kit.

Possible experiments include Earth imagery, measuring the orbital environment, tracking something like migratory animals, testing hardware or software in the space environment, or doing on-orbit advertising.

There are two different payment options. If you pay the full cost upfront, you will be placed immediately placed on a launch manifest according to the order in which the payment was received. If you pay half the cost upfront, and then pay the other half of the cost at a later date, you will be placed on a launch manifest according to the time when full payment is received.

Good news: Interorbital takes Paypal.

Find out more at Interorbital’s TubeSat page.


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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