back to article Did cosmic radiation nuke $25 satellite swarm? 100 snoozing Sprites face fiery death

Bad news for lovers of amateur space exploration: a crowd-funded project that managed to send aloft 100 tiny satellites around Earth looks set to fail. The project in question is the KickSat, which kicked off in 2011 with the promise to create 100 satellites, each about the size of a pair of postage stamps and dubbed 'Sprites …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel a disturbance in "The Force"

    Its like thousand of students screamed in horror as their work was incinerated in a fiery ball of plasma death. Something terrible has happened.

    oh, and May the 4th be with you, or is that Revenge of the Fifth?

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Radiation!

    Fukushima is EVERYHWERE!!!

  3. Roo

    There is an upside...

    There will be slightly less debris in orbit :)

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: There will be slightly less debris in orbit

      You are not paying attention. Everything will de-orbit very quickly. The debris you are looking for will be ash in the atmosphere.

  4. Grikath Silver badge

    Still...

    Given the amount of effort it takes to get something to function in orbit at all, and , for instance, all the things the LOHAN team ran into and had to compensate for, etc. , it's pretty cool they got the thing off the launchpad, in orbit, and more-or-less functional to begin with.

    1. petur
      Mushroom

      Re: Still...

      Except the launchpad and orbit stuff were not their problem, a brick would have had the same success

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the problem is indeed power

    Could not someone like DARPA give it a "tickle" with their ground based infrared laser(s) ?

    All it would need is a very slight boost and the battery should charge up nicely and reinitialised the controller.

    Just my $0.02 worth.

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: If the problem is indeed power

      Sadly, more likely to get help from Dr Evil's Sharks with Frickin' Laser Beams...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE. Re: If the problem is indeed power

        Surely someone has to have a laser I can "borrow" for an afternoon.

        Its not like it needs much power, 2-10 KW directed at it ought to be more than enough and there are areas in Nevada that have no air traffic which are also used for Lightcraft etc.

        Scratch building a multi kilowatt class IR laser in 3 weeks with a budget of say £50K still offsets the loss of an expensive satellite PLUS you get to keep the laser.

        Even a basic CO2 can put out maybe 300W so a bundle of those made from parts at Home Depot and salvaged from scrap microwaves would be relatively cheap although power might be a slight problem.

  6. frank ly Silver badge

    I suppose ..

    .. they'll just have to hope for a few sunny days.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, radiation increases as you escape the atmosphere shocker..... not the brightest students running this then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmm, radiation increases as you

      Sometimes your budget only allows you to plan for 20% of the foreseeable issues.

      Why else do NASA waste money with third and fourth backup systems to keep things going smoothly?

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        Re: Hmm, radiation increases as you

        "Sometimes your budget only allows you to plan for 20% of the foreseeable issues."
        That would've been a fine excuse in 1960. Since then, we've sent up sats with detectors on, and even dedicated sats. We know what the environment up there is like, and it's not even amongst the "secret" data. Radiation is more than foreseeable.

        Their orbit seems to be extremely low (which makes things easier as the atmosphere will shield them a lot better), but for example in one of my recent projects we were seeing a radiation triggered glitch in a simple op-amp at least once a day. You then analyse the effects of those glitches and design the system to ignore or cope with them. Resetting a 16 day timer on a mission with a lifetime of less than a month does not sound sensible.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Hmm, radiation increases as you

          > Radiation is more than foreseeable.

          Yes you could have bought rad hard chips for 10x the price, assuming you could get export permission, and you could only have launched 1/10 as many satellites because the rad hard chips are bigger, lower performance and higher power requirement.

          Then you should build 5 backup systems and a voting controller, and large enough solar panels to power them, and make them deployable, and by the time you've done this you migtt as well just put a crew onboard - so your $25 nano-say becomes the ISS

    2. Psyx

      "not the brightest students running this then?"

      Well, they're designing satellite mission payloads while we're commenting on internet forums.

      Who's brightest?

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Well, they're designing satellite mission payloads while we're commenting on internet forums

        "Anything worth doing, is worth doing right" and all that nonsense...

        1. Psyx

          "Anything worth doing, is worth doing right"

          Fine if you don't have a tight budget restriction to work to. Not viable if you do. Reliability is always the first thing to suffer when you try to do things cheaply... which was the entire point of the project.

          This was a shoestring project where lots of things could go wrong. Yet it inspired people to donate and take an interest in the technology and space. Even in failure it's been educational.

          Calling the people behind it stupid and short-sighted while equipped with both hindsight and anonymity is frankly lame.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " they're designing satellite mission payloads while we're commenting on internet forums."

        And getting paid for it. While us physicists knew what would happen (but the Web 2.0 kickstarters presumably don't include many technologists).

        "Who's brightest?"

        Not sure.

        "Who's dumbest?" is an easier question though. The folks who donated to something whose chances of success were inevitably small, maybe?

  8. adam 40

    Good planning - triple redundancy

    At least they had the forethought to launch three "Mother" satellites, KickSat, KickStat and KicSat ;^)

  9. Stu
    Joke

    Ahem...

    If I may don my favourite tin-foil hat for a second...

    What if they just SAID they struck a deal with SpaceX.

    What if they just SAID it went into orbit and was due to release it's payload on May the fourth.

    What if they just SAID the mission failed due to a convincing sounding issue with 'radiation'.

    And what if they'd planned this all along and ran off with some major moolah.

    ;-)

    1. Stevie Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: What if they just SAID

      Oooh, good one.

      Wait, what if the Spacex exploded, set light to the atmosphere and we're all dead and in hell for challenging God's Will?

      It would explain "Garfield".

      1. ecofeco Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: What if they just SAID

        "Wait, what if the Spacex exploded, set light to the atmosphere and we're all dead and in hell for challenging God's Will?

        It would explain "Garfield"."

        It would certainly explain a lot of things.

    2. Big John Silver badge

      Re: Ahem...

      "What if they just SAID they struck a deal with SpaceX..."

      They would STILL have to strike a deal with SpaceX, just not the one we think.

  10. ilmari

    I wonder if their computer system had redundancy...

    You woukd think they would, as even the amateur high altitude balloon people have used , well essentially triply redundant arduino arrays, and have been able to detect and report back the number of times their cpus have been affected by radiation.. iirc around half dozen 'events' at balloon altitudes..

    You would think the amsat community designed their previous sats sanely too, as some of them are still up there and working..

    But then, are thess people just some random dudes that threw together a kickstarter and ignored the experiences of amateur satellite operators that came before them, or did they indeed have best practice design and got hit by too much radiation for their redundancy to cope with?

    1. Psyx
      Happy

      "I wonder if their computer system had redundancy."

      It had 99 back-ups. That's plenty of redundancy.

      1. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
        Facepalm

        @ Psyx - It had 99 back-ups. That's plenty of redundancy.

        Ninety nine eggs in one basket isn't my idea of back-up or redundancy. DRP isn't your strong point is it.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: @ Psyx - It had 99 back-ups. That's plenty of redundancy.

          If the basket is very strong, I am sure we can justify SIL 4

        2. Psyx

          Re: @ Psyx - It had 99 back-ups. That's plenty of redundancy.

          You don't think perhaps that the smiley face was clearly indicative of humour?

          But thanks for assuming I'm stupid because you didn't understand the sarcasm.

  11. ecofeco Silver badge

    Yes, "space" is still hard

    Truly a shame. A very neat idea, but space is still a very harsh and unforgiving place.

    Sincere better luck next time.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ninety nine red balloons

    Incinerating in the summer sky..

    (insert groaning sound here)

  13. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    I feel sad that an innovative idea has failed...

    ...but it really did seem like space littering.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019