Launch Your Own Personal Satellite for $8,000 USD

by Nancy Atkinson on August 3, 2009

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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.

DrFlimmer August 3, 2009 at 2:35 PM

I don’t know, there is enough s**t out there. We must be careful that we don’t end as in “Wall-E”. The scene when the rocket launches from the earth was one of the best of the movie….

speedrcj August 3, 2009 at 2:59 PM

seriously, don’t we have enough out there?

Jorge August 3, 2009 at 3:02 PM

My personal bull-o-meter just screamed with the “not contribute to orbital debris by being in a self-decaying orbit.” line.

Everything in Low Earth orbit is in a self-decaying orbit. Everything, ISS (whose average orbital height is not far from these guys’ 310 km mark) included. Nothing in LEO will stay permanently up there, and every little bit of space debris up there will eventually find its way back to Earth. The problem is what happens until then.

However these guys put it, the truth of the matter is that their micro-satellites will add to the amount of junk, and hence to the perils involved in going to and from orbit, even if only for a couple of months. No advertising can change that fact.

Rob_Bowman August 3, 2009 at 3:51 PM

I hope the space junk problem really has been thought through here, I’d like to see these going into an orbit that decays in, say, 1-2 years. If that were the case, then how very exciting! $8k to launch a satellite!

I’m off to the drawing board … and then to the bank manager.

… “so, Rob, how’s your week been?”

… “Not bad, thanks – I just launched my own satellite into low earth orbit!”

I would just love for that conversation to take place one day :)

omnivorr August 3, 2009 at 4:48 PM

a more likely conversation…
“We have the technology, so let’s use it..”
“Yeah! what’s a really good use for it?”
“Umm.. no idea”
“Oh well, let’s just do something pointless with it, solong as it makes a profit.”

Astrofiend August 3, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Kick arse. Can I mount a high-power death laser on it? I’ll shoot everyone else’s tube sats down…

Rob_Bowman August 3, 2009 at 5:34 PM


“pointless” ?! Man are you ever jaded. The possibilities for creative endeavour, education, and, yes, FUN are without limit. If this outfit are for real (I have no reason to assume they’re not), then they WILL be launching satellites designed by teenagers. That’s worth $8k of anyone’s money.

Dominion August 3, 2009 at 6:56 PM

I too am picturing the scene from Wall-E. I don’t like this idea. It does sound fun and interesting but it doesn’t seem very responsible. Especially considering the state of the world’s economy. Don’t we have better things to spend our money on? If anyone has an extra 8 grand laying around for nothing better than a pimped out ham radio then let me give you my address. Help a brother out.

sillybear7 August 3, 2009 at 10:27 PM

My personal preference is to have my ashes put into one of these things after I die, preferably in the lowest orbit so that within a few months I can fall back to earth and burn up in the atmosphere.

I could thus guarantee my (shooting) stardom. Plus it would be a nice show for any of my relo’s that are keen to see it. Maybe even put in some phosphorus magnesium or other things to make me glow different colors as I fall to earth one last time.

Terragen August 4, 2009 at 11:04 AM

As soon as I saw this headline I just thought “BAD IDEA”. We already have WAY too much JUNK orbiting the Earth. We don’t need people’s personal GARBAGE out there. Someday some stupid person’s ashes or some crap is going to fall back to Earth with all the rest of this crap. Don’t people realize space is not “out there” its right next to us. Everything orbiting is actually in free-fall and is NOT going to be out there permanently! No one cares whether you lived or died and no one cares about your crap floating in space! Save the 8000$ and put it towards a space program or to feeding people. This is a selfish, stupid venture.

Silver Thread August 4, 2009 at 9:35 PM

Hrm…You know I have a hamster and a cell phone that just might slide beneath that weight limit….

Though in truth it’d be a lot more fun to try and design an R/C version of the Millenium Falcon to throw up there.

Torbjorn Larsson OM August 5, 2009 at 1:10 PM

Of course it’s a good idea. it’s a tough market as it is. But it won’t fly; it’s an OTRAG spinoff/technology user, which is a paper construction.

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