UPSat – World’s first Open Source Satellite launched into space

World's first open source Satellite UPSat
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This has to be one of the most amazing open source projects of the year. A technology, satellite, which is heavily guarded and mostly utilized by military or government is now available to any budding space enthusiast, living anywhere in the world. For free!

UPSat is a joint initiative of Libre Space Foundation and University of Patras, in Greece. It is designed from scratch as completely open sourced including the hardware. That literally includes the firmware, the chassis and all software related to the satellite. The code and specs can be downloaded from GitHub where they are publicly available.

The UPSat is based on a 2U Cubesat specifications. Cubesat is a standard developed in late 1990s by Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University. It is usually in the order of 10x10x10 cm cubic units. 2U would make it 10x10x20 cm cubic units. That is twice as tall as a standard Cubesat. It usually never weighs more than 2Kg and uses as many off the shelf components as possible. In this case, all the components specifications are available as open source.

Libre Space Foundation is dedicated for “an Open and Accessible Outer Space for all.” and their mission is, “We believe that space should be claimed the libre (open source) way.” Libre Space is offering its services to anyone who wants to build a satellite and launch it in space.  So all those budding engineers wanting to become Rocket scientists, here is their chance.

This is just the beginning of a new revolution in space. As open source technology for space matures, we will see a lot bigger and power satellites launched into orbit doing even more complex experiments.

This is also an opportunity for developing economies scientists and engineers to start building and launching their own versions of miniature satellites in space. Thus, truly liberating space.

The main drawback of Cubesat satellites is that they are usually in LEO orbit and can do limited amount of work. They are also difficult to maneuver and have limited power reserves.

However, they can be extremely useful and powerful if they are launched in a cluster of hundreds. We could see interesting results when such miniature satellites collaborating together and carry out far more complex tasks for a longer duration of time. We may see that time soon as this technology is now no longer in the hands of the few.

The space is now truly liberated!

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Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

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