[extropy-chat] SPACE: Microsats launching

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 3 22:59:10 UTC 2005

--- Mike Lorrey <mlorrey at yahoo.com> wrote:

> --- Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> > On Mon, Oct 03, 2005 at 11:42:54AM -0500, kevinfreels.com wrote:
> > 
> > > I would like to see that price come down to $1000. When you were
> > working
> > 
> > http://www.futron.com/pdf/futronlaunchcostwp.pdf
> > 
> > it is going to be one damn small nanosat.
> I'm wondering if the price per kg quoted on the Russian Shtil
> launcher is a typo. $465/kg is right in the price range we want.

The important thing with these cubesats is that for the now, we want to
come up with ideas for cube sats that could produce product that would
be salable. For example, a Japanese group put up one with a camera that
snaps pictures every time the tumbling satellite rotates the earth into
the cameras view, thus classifying as an "earth observation satellite".

What sort of data collection could be done in low earth orbit which
could be priced to pay for the satellite, plus operating costs and
profit, that is of sufficient value for this sort of investment and is
either ignored by the big sat operators, or undercuts them?

Weather observation, obviously, is one such possibility. As these are
typically launched into polar orbits, they cover the entire earth once
a day. Putting up 24 of these would allow every part of the earth to be
filmed once an hour, while networking them all to transfer each others
photos to one ground station would also allow for hourly updates. They
would function together as a form of "indian running" with each cubesat
taking a turn as the image server as it passes over the downlink ground

Assuming per kg launch costs of $3,000, and putting up 2-4 extra
satellites for spares, and assuming a max sat cost for equipment and
assembly of no more than $10k each, you could have your own weather
observation constellation in orbit for $338k-364k, maximum.

That is cheap. Figuring annual operating costs (capital, labor,
broadcasting, etc) of less than $1 million (expecting ROI of one year),
you'd be profitable the second year, easy, if not within six months.

Now you just need a way to maximize the value of your images. Would
nude weathergirls interpreting your images do it? or MIT
meteorologists? (are there people who are both?). 

Whatever. The fact is that with proven cubesats in orbit, the potential
of space as a small business opportunity is now real. It isn't just for
the big boys anymore.

Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
Founder, Constitution Park Foundation:
Personal/political blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005 

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