How to purchase an affordable small satellite – at the cost of a mid-size car

Image from and hosted on PocketQube’s site.

Because it’s been a year, I’m taking a little break.  So you’re currently looking at some of the Clearancejobs.com articles about space I’ve written.  I’ll be interspersing these throughout for a little bit (not long).  This particular article was posted on Clearancejobs.com on 3 January, 2014.

Do you have a spare $35,000 in your pocket?  Would you like to spend it on something great that isn’t a car or a boat?  Well, my lucky friend, here’s an opportunity for you—you can literally buy your own small satellite.  That’s right, in a domain dominated by big US government, you can get your very own, somewhat affordable small satellite in orbit for less than the cost of a luxury Ford pickup.  If you have the means to buy two, you’d still be paying less than a particular Jaguar F-type S—a bargain, really.

The company willing to take your money for this privilege is PocketQube.  Admittedly, there’s not much on their homepage but this Yahoo! News article  has an interview with the founder, Tom Walkinshaw.  The amount of $35,000 comes straight from PocketQube’s website, however in the Yahoo! News interview Mr. Walkinshaw seems to think $15,000 to $20,000 is also feasible—so that might be as many as FIVE satellites for the price of that Jag.  Any one of these satellites can be designed to do whatever it is you would like to do, and I’m fairly certain the price is increased according to the capabilities added.  Mr. Walkinshaw says to expect typical production times to be on the scale of a year to 18 months.

If you look at the Kickstarter video, you’ll see that the satellites PocketQube want to put up in space are about the size of a Rubik’s Cube (for the younger readers, please go here to see what that means).  Considering what cell phones can do in smaller spaces, there’s a lot that can be done even with a satellite of that size.  While there is no itemization on the website for the costs, Mr. Walkinshaw makes it sound like the majority of the money will go to the launch.  He also seems to be leaning towards using the ISC (International Space Company) Kosmotras for rocketing PocketQubes into orbit.  ISC Kosmotras is a launch company that uses old Russian ICBMs to get satellites into orbit.

For less than the cost of college, you too could be a space operator—go for it!

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