The Mission Readiness Review–Episode 11: It’s Cubesats All the Way Down!

A show after vacation!! This site contains my opinions and ideas only, not the opinions or ideas of any organization I work for. It’s my idea playground, and I’m inviting you in. Welcome!

On today’s show:

  • Antares, and Falcons, and Long Marches, oh my!
  • $25 to listen to cubesats?
  • And, combating space junk!

Click on the link below to listen to the podcast:

Intro background music POD Dreams by Stefan Kartenberg (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. Ft: Debbizo, Michael Bacich.

Are cubesats a fad?

There are those out there who believe these small satellites don’t have a place in space

But there are others who are investing in cubesats, such as Rocket Lab

Who is right? Are cubesats a fad?

We don’t believe so.

  • There may be a fear and a hope driving those who think cubesats are a fad
    • The fear is that their industry (if they belong to it) is threatened by the potential that cubesats represent
    • Some hope these satellites aren’t ever going to be as capable as large ones, which might be true, but I doubt it
    • Some may be used to space being “theirs” and don’t like dealing with these newcomers
  • There’s precedent for technology getting smaller and better at the same time, so I wouldn’t bet against these smaller satellites replacing large ones
    • Cubesats provide a standard, and they can be manufactured cheaply
      • The components are inexpensive, leveraging the global technology sector
    • The fact they don’t cost as much to launch as a large satellite is a bonus
    • These characteristics encourage people, companies, and organizations to experiment
    • For example Kenya just launched a 1U cubesat into orbit–and didn’t lose its shirt while doing it

Space junk

People are worried about it.

We were told whoever figures out how to clean it up will be very rich

Intriguing video from Surrey Space Center that outlines how they intend to test out some ideas with RemoveDebris satellite.

  • It will deploy cubesats as test space junk and use different methods to catch it
  • A net, a dragsail, a harpoon and a method for visually identifying debris

How likely are any of these methods going to be successful?

  • -can catch from at most 7 m away from target.
  • -only one at a time, since relative postioning is static
  • -like a highway where everyone going 55 or else they fall off the road

$25 Cubesat Radio Receivers


maybe a good weekend project for someone who wants to hear a cubesat

  • There are a lot of cubesats on orbit using amateur radio frequencies
  • Some beep morse code, some send out tones, etc.
  • This means the signals are very receivable, with the right equipment

It turns out the equipment is very inexpensive.

  • And software is free
  • Means, with a laptop, you can see the signals as satellites fly overhead

Show links:

Launch schedule:

Long March 2D launch:

Antares launch:

Falcon 9 launch:

PE0SAT Amateur Radio:

$25 cubesat receiver:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s