Welcome to ISS
The Cygnus cargo craft carrying SkyCube to the International Space Station arrived this morning at 8:05 AM EST today. The Nanoracks CubeSat deployers containing our satellite will be transferred by the ISS crew from Cygnus to the Multipurpose Logistics Module (PMLM), and will be stored there until deployment.
Here’s how the capture looked this morning:
The ISS will be our home for the next few months. You might get to know it! It’s the largest, most massive, and longest continuously-occupied structure in orbit. We thought it might be fun to provide a quick factual comparison between SkyCube, and the station it now occupies.
First, a visual comparison:
Here's how the facts and figures stack up:
Station: 357 x 239 x 167 feet (109 x 73 x 51 m)
SkyCube: 4.5 x 3.9 x 2.9 inches (113 x 100 x 100 mm)
Station: 924,000 lbs (420 metric tons)
SkyCube: 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg)
Station: Pressurized, 32,000 cu ft (388 cu m)
SkyCube: Unpressurized, 0.019 cu ft (0.001 cu m)
Station: 8 panels, 73 m length, total area ~1 acre (0.4 hectare)
SkyCube: 9 panels, 113 mm length, total area approx 76 sq. inch (492 sq cm)
Solar Power Generation
Station: 84,000 watts
SkyCube: 3.6 watts
Lines of Computer Code
Station: ~2.3 million
Station: 30 years (launched 1998; certified thru 2028; funded thru 2024)
SkyCube: 90 days
Total Cost to Date
Station: approx. USD $160,000,000,000
SkyCube: approx. USD $255,000
Go See ISS!
If you’ve grabbed the latest version of our Satellite Safari app from the iTunes Store or Google Play, you can use it to see the ISS pass overhead in the night sky. This is good practice for the last phase of SkyCube’s mission, when we inflate SkyCube’s balloon to make it briefly visibile before it de-orbits.
1) Search for “ISS.” (Without the quotes, duh.)
2) The data table shows when it will pass over your location. Many passes are not visible because they take place in daylight or while the ISS is eclipsed in Earth’s shadow.
3) Scroll down to find a visible pass. Get ready.
When the pass time arrives, you can use Satellite Safari - and your iPhone or Android’s compass - to find ISS (and SkyCube!) in the sky.
1) Make sure time is current! If not, tap “Time” in the main toolbar, then “Now.”
2) Tilt your iPhone or Android up at the sky, to turn on its compass.
3) Follow the ISS orbit with your phone to the ISS itself. Wait and watch as it passes across the sky.
If you haven’t run the app in a while, let it update its orbit data from Celestrak.com. The ISS moves frequently, to avoid space debris, and is periodically reboosted. Satellite Safari updates its orbit data automatically every time you start it. You can also force an orbit data update at the bottom of the Settings screen. Updating takes about a minute.
Also make sure you've got the very latest app version (1.5 for iOS, 1.5.2 for Android). Earlier versions do not support the compass.
Best viewing times are just after dusk or just before dawn. Clear skies, and happy station spotting! Remember - this isn’t just cool. One day, if all goes well, you’ll use the same technique to spot SkyCube.
Aloha from Lanai, Hawaii,