Open Source Space Satellites Launched

This news story in NewScientist by Lisa Grossman caught the attention of a lot of people this week – "Space station poised to launch open-source satellites". Known as CubeSats, these open source mini -satellites were launched into space this week aboard a Japanese resupply vehicle heading to the International Space Station (ISS). This citizen-science project was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Paying customers will be able to program controls on the satellites and run experiments for three days for $125, or for $250 per week. The open source CubeSats run Arduino, an open source computer hardware and software platform popular with science hobbyists. Five years out, the project team expects to see hundreds of these satellites deployed in space.

Students of Sara Seager at MIT helped design and build CubeSats for planetary science.  "This definitely is helping open up space both to all people and all nations," Seager says of the Ardusat launch.

This is all kind of amazing to me – and to the rapidly growing open source global community. What's next? Open source space vehicles heading around the moon and off to Mars?

BTW - how much would a large commercial company have charged for a similar solution? $50 million? $100 million? Interesting to speculate about.

Open source has come a long way over the past decade.  What other spectacular new innovative uses of open source platforms do you see coming down the road? Especially in Healthcare.