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A nano-satellite that lets you take Earth images and "tweet" from space, then inflates a visible balloon, and de-orbits cleanly.
2,711 backers pledged $116,890 to help bring this project to life.

SkyCube Is Alive

Posted by Tim DeBenedictis (Creator)


SkyCube deployed from the International Space Station last night, at 07:30 GMT -  half an hour before midnight here in California.  These three videos show three different views of the deployment.  They were provided by Nanoracks, courtesy of NASA:

After that, ISS and SkyCube passed into Earth's shadow.  There was a 45 minute wait before the solar panels & radio antennas could deploy. SkyCube had been in cold/dark storage for 4 months, we never tested how the batteries hold charge over that long; they may have discharged; it may take several orbits to recharge up enough to fire up the burnwires that release the solar panels. We just did not know.

This morning, the satellite just made its first North American pass, over New Mexico. We repeatedly sent it "Get telemetry" commands, meaning "send me your battery level, solar panel voltages, overall health level, etc."  For the first minute or two, no response. Then the ground radio started detecting signal at the expected 915 MHz frequency, then a digital signal at the right baud rate. It wasn't quite strong enough to fully decode all the bits, but there was definitely signal coming back. The signal stopped coming back when the satellite crossed over the horizon, as expected. The guys here are sure that was signal from the satellite.

If they're right, this means that the solar panels must have deployed some time last night, and released the radio antennas. And the processor board is working. And the batteries didn't die after 4 months in cold storage.

The patient is alive. Stay tuned.


Aubrey, Hens Zimmerman, and 53 more people like this update.


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    1. Tim DeBenedictis Creator on

      All - we've been really busy trying to identify which of the 5 new TLEs is SkyCube. As of right now, Celestrak's identification of SkyCube = 39569 (i.e., my original guess) is probably not correct. I'll try to post a more complete update in a few more days, including telemetry info. I appreciate your patience here - this is, after all, rocket science.

    2. josep saldaña cavallé on

      What is the situation right now? Where can we find the details to receive SkyCube telemetry?

    3. Missing avatar

      Greg Parikh on

      Satellite Safari just changed the name of 39569 to Skycube, so it may be correct, even with a 1998 designation.

    4. Francisco Eduardo M S Spuny on

      Me again to Greg : take a look at…
      I can't fully understand, but NORAD 39569 does not seem to be our SkyCube...

    5. Francisco Eduardo M S Spuny on

      Dear Greg : I think you are correct. I checked on Satellite Safari and the 39569 seems to be dated to 1998 as you said. Perhaps I looked for the wrong number. I'll be waiting for the next report. Thank you.

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      Greg Parikh on

      I don't think it is 39569. That has a date of 1998.

    7. Francisco Eduardo M S Spuny on

      Just went to Satellite Safari and found it, based on NORAD number 39569. SkyCube will be just over my head (São Paulo, Brazil) in a couple of minutes... Cool... Wish you guys soon receive reliable telemetry data from the Cube.

    8. Mark on

      Congratulations, any full communication yet?

    9. Tim DeBenedictis Creator on

      Francisco - on Sunday, published orbits for 5 new objects with NORAD number 39567, 39568, 39569, 39670, 39571. Our best guess, based on position in the deployer, is that SkyCube is 39569. But it's just a guess at this point. We haven't yet had enough contacts to fully disambiguate the objects. They are all still too close together.

    10. Francisco Eduardo M S Spuny on

      I can't see it on Satellite Safari !!! Is it sending signals to earth ? Please, post more news !!!! We all want to know if it is strong and healthy !!!

    11. Thomas Eldredge on

      Rock on little satellite!

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      John Kofroth on

      When will satalite safari know about the orbit?

    13. Alison B. Lowndes on

      That's so damned awesome.. I've had the longest toughest week but I'm jumping round the room at this news ... so looking forward to the "upload messages" post x PS you guys all rock x!x

    14. Mauricio Fonseca Beltran on

      Great ! Congratulations !!!
      I am wait for news...

    15. Missing avatar

      M on

      Awesome. Congrats guys!

    16. Michael Scott on

      Wow!!! How Awesome! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    17. Missing avatar

      Stephane L. on

      Congrats! That's a great news!
      I can't wait for the next update

    18. Aubrey on

      Reading this update had me on the edge of my seat!