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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.

Recent updates

Photos

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Rewards and Progress

Posted by Tim DeBenedictis (Creator)

Hello Team SkyCube!

We'll soon send you a survey asking for your mailing address, T-shirt size, and other questions about how you'd like to use your SkyCube messages and images, so we can get a sense of what's most important to you during the mission.

T-Shirt Design Contestants

Speaking of T-shirts, here are the designs you submitted.  We'll ask you to pick a winner in our upcoming survey, so please save this email!  Here is T-shirt design "A":

Here is T-shirt design "B":

Here is T-shirt design "C":

Here is T-shirt design "D":

In case there is no overwhelming winner, we may bring in an artist to create a design that combines attributes of all four.  So don't forget to vote!

Our T-shirt manufacturer, Infini-Tees of Phoenix, AZ, specializes in manufacturing astronomical and scientific apparel, and we're pleased to be working with them.

SkyCube 1/3-scale 3D models

Andy Filo, at NASA Ames, has just sent us ten beautifully-manufactured, 1/3-scale, 3D-printed SkyCube models.  We'll be sending them to their sponsors shortly.  Here's what the assembly line looks like:

The 3D printing and assembly cost is about $100 each in small volumes. So unless we get orders for several hundred units, these models will be expensive to produce.  If anyone else would like a SkyCube model, please let us know by sending an email to skycube@southernstars.com!  The more we can produce, the less they'll cost.

Engineering Progress

Most of our engineering work in the past two weeks has been software-related, so there aren't a lot of pretty pictures to show you at this time.  Here are some of the things we've accomplished recently:

  • Completed modular drivers for the radio and camera.
  • Completed lightweight flash-memory filesystem, including error correction and redundancy to deal with cosmic-ray hits and other space-related issues (radiation, etc.).
  • Optimizations to reduce compiled code size by almost 30% - greatly increases what we can do with our very limited 256KB of available storage.
  • A Windows program that uses an inexpensive off-the-shelf software-defined-radio (SDR) USB dongle to decode SkyCube's radio transmissions.  It works in the lab, and it might just give you an inexpensive way to decode SkyCube's "tweets" from space.  More results TBD.

We do have a lot of work ahead of us, though!  We'll keep you updated as things progress.  In the meantime, keep your eye out for our upcoming survey.  And keep looking up!

-Tim, Chris, Joe, Rouslan, Scott, Mark, Kevin, David, and the rest of Team SkyCube

Looking Forward with Gratitude

Posted by Tim DeBenedictis (Creator)

Hello, Team SkyCube!

You've probably gotten the news: we did it.  Again!  We not only exceeded our original $82.5K funding goal, but also our $110K stretch goal - by a healthy margin - on the final day of the campaign.

We have a lot of work ahead.  We owe a lot of people T-shirts, magazine subscriptions, 3D printed satellite models, some 915 MHz radio receivers, a bunch of model rockets, and some trips to Florida - not to mention a complete orbital space mission next spring!

There is a lot for us to do, and we have a very public promise to deliver on.

Next Steps

Right now Amazon is processing everyone's credit cards and sorting out payment issues.  Your funds should be released to the project within 14 days.  In the meantime, we'll develop a simple web app that will let you:

  • submit and schedule your allocation of messages and images
  • gift some (or all) of your messages and/or images to someone else
  • provide a unique identifier so we know who you are throughout the course of the project.

For those to whom we owe T-shirts, we'll take a survey within 10 days of the designs that you submitted, and the sizes that are requested.  We should have T-shirts manufactured and shipped to you within 6-8 weeks.

Magazine subscriptions should happen within the same timeframe.  SkyCube 3D printed models are currently in manufacturing, and with any luck will be available by the end of September.

SkySafari Supports Dark Skies!

A shameless plug: for the next 10 days, through September 23rd, 2012, our SkySafari apps for iOS, Mac OS X, and Android will be on sale at up to 30% off regular price.  When SkyCube launches, you'll be able to track it across the sky with SkySafari.  You can already use SkySafari to locate other bright satellites and the International Space Station.  The SkyCube mission will get its own dedicated app, based on SkySafari's code - so this is a good sneak preview of the SkyCube app that's coming down the pike.

[Above: SkySafari Basic, Plus, and Pro app icons for iOS and Android (left); IDA logo (right).]

This SkySafari sale isn't just for us.  We're donating 30% of all SkySafari app proceeds during the next 10 days to the International Dark Sky Association.  The IDA is the world's recognized authority on light pollution prevention.  The IDA's mission, to preserve the night sky for future generations, is one that we share deeply.

To support the IDA and take advantage of the SkySafari sale, go to the iTunes Store (iOS), the Mac App Store (Mac OS X) or Google Play (Android).

Closing Lyrics

We'd like to leave you with a song.  Ray Phoenix, our lead firmware engineer's dad, surprised us last night with an unexpected musical tribute to SkyCube.  Sung in 1960s folk-music fashion by someone who watched the original space race unfold before his eyes, here is an MP3 recorded by the artist himself, reproduced with his permission:

Music and lyrics copyright 2012, Ray and Chris Phoenix.  All Rights Reserved.

We have a lot of work ahead - but we're hugely grateful to all of you for carrying us so far already.    We owe you a mission for the history books.  Ad Astra!

-Tim, Chris, Kevin, Tyler, Mark, Scott, David, Rouslan, Joe, and the rest of Team SkyCube

The $110,000 T-Shirt Contest

Posted by Tim DeBenedictis (Creator)

Good Morning Team SkyCube!

Last night, we hit $100,000! It actually happened while I (Tim) was watching the premiere of George Takei's new musical, Allegiance, in San Diego.  After the show, I had the opportunity to thank George in person, on behalf of all of us, for his support.  In return, he thanked all of you for making it possible.  His exact words were, "It's an honor."  Wow!

If you happen to be in southern California, check out Allegiance.  it was quite good.

Today, by the way, is the 46th anniversary of the original Star Trek TV series. We've come a long, long way.

New Goal: $110K

There are three days left to achieve our new goal of $110K.  To that end, here are the next couple of events we're planning:

  • Tonight, Saturday September 8th, the Blackbird Pub in San Francisco, at 2124 Market Street, is hosting a SkyCube fundraiser from 6 - 9 PM.  If you're in the area, come on by!  We'll have some cool hardware, and free drinks for new sponsors.
  • Monday, September 10th at Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, California, we'll be presenting a more serious talk about SkyCube from 7 - 8 PM.  Several other Bay Area CubeSat teams will also be in attendance.  The event is free and open to the public.

SkyCube's kickstarter campaign closes once-and-for-all at midnight on Wednesday, September 12th.

Team SkyCube T-Shirt Designs Wanted!

Several of you have asked what the Team SkyCube T-shirts will look like.  The answer is: it's up to you!  We're actively seeking your designs.  Here is one possibility:

If you're creatively inclined, feel free to download this 8 MB ZIP file.  It contains SkyCube artwork, and the logos of our major participants.  Try creating your own T-shirt design, and email your final submission to skycube@southernstars.com.  We're just betting that one of you is better at this than we are.

To be eligible to submit your T-shirt design, you must be a $10 (or higher) SkyCube sponsor.  We'll announce the winning design shortly after our kickstarter campaign closes.  Please note that T-shirts will only be awarded to $60 sponsors and up.

Wrapup

We'll hope to see you at Blackbird tonight, or at Hacker Dojo on Monday.  There are three days left - let's make them count.  Thanks again for your support.

-Tim, Chris, Kevin, Tyler, Mark, David, Joe, and the rest of Team SkyCube

New Rewards

Posted by Tim DeBenedictis (Creator)

Hello Team SkyCube!

The past few days have been rather extraordinary.  Friday morning, we surpassed our original $82.5K funding goal.  Sunday morning, we made the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle business section.

And today, George Takei gave us another shout-out on Facebook.  As a result, SkyCube now has over 2,100 backers - a number we'd only hoped for in our wildest expectations!

Next Stop: SkyCube 2

Right now, we're only a stone's throw away from our new goal of $100K.  This will let us build a backup copy of SkyCube in case the original is destroyed in a launch vehicle failure.

But it's much more likely that the first SkyCube will reach orbit successfully.  In this case, a second SkyCube will provide even more capacity for everyone to broadcast messages and capture images of the Earth.  We might even find a way to launch SkyCube 2 for free!

To move us past this new goal, we're offering some new rewards to make the additional investment worth your while.  These rewards will be offered soon after our Kickstarter campaign closes in September.  You won't have to wait until SkyCube launches in 2013 to receive them.

Space & Social Media Magazines

At $150, you can receive your choice of a one-year digital subscription to either:

You'll also get 150 messages and 25 images from space, and a pair of SkyCube T-shirts.

SkyCube 3D Models

At $250, we're offering a very limited treat.

Andy Filo, a space hardware designer located at NASA Ames, has generously produced ten 3D models of SkyCube. These are high-quality 1/3 scale models, produced with groundbreaking new 3D printing technology – and they're light enough to float with a helium balloon! We'll even include such a balloon for you to float your SkyCube model.

Those models will go to the first ten people who pledge $250 or more to SkyCube – either as new sponsors, or as an upgrade to your existing pledge. We only have ten of these models. They go to the first ten takers.  Here's a picture (pelican case not included):

This is in addition to the new digital magazine subscription choices, and a complement of 250 messages and 40 images from space.

What You Can Do

We're less than $8,000 away from being able to build "SkyCube 2".  With 2100 sponsors, we can get there if everyone chips in just $4 each. Realistically, not everyone is going to do this - so if you really want to insure your investment in SkyCube by building a low-cost clone, please consider upping your sponsorship by $10 or more.

And if you're really serious about backing SkyCube, please consider the brand new reward categories above.  They'll put you - and all of us - over the top.  Again.

Best wishes.

-Tim, Joe, Chris, Kevin, Tyler, David, Rouslan, Matt, and the rest of Team SkyCube

We did it - SkyCube is Fully Funded!

Posted by Tim DeBenedictis (Creator)

Funding Update: 100+% of Goal

On Wednesday evening we sent you an update asking for an extra five bucks to hit our target in the next 12 days. Then sometime between 8am and 11am the very next day, we surpassed that target. That was a fabulous response from you all. We now have close to 1,700 backers which is a very broad and loyal support base. Sincerely, we're honored to have your support

We also have another corporate sponsor, SLOOH Space Camera. They have a very cool site - check it out.

Backup Satellite

With 11 days of fund-raising remaining on Kickstarter, we'll continue the drive. We'll use the extra funding to build a backup SkyCube. So we're announcing a new stretch goal of $100,000. The additional funds will be used to build a second copy of SkyCube, in case of launch vehicle failure or (much better) to let everyone take even more pictures and send more messages from space.

We've got additional incentives for this new goal: we're giving away subscriptions to Sky & Telescope Magazine,  Social Media Monthly, plus ten (10) detailed models of SkyCube created by Andy Filo. Details will appear in our next posting.

Tribute to Neil Armstrong

If you were around when Armstrong rode Apollo 11 to the Moon, you'll remember that he united not only America, but the whole world. Everyone was inspired by the achievement. Competition and differences were largely set aside as we watched in awe. That mission was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and Neil Armstrong is a once-in-a-generation individual. The Discovery Channel is airing a tribute to him on Saturday evening. Catch it if you can. 

Thanks again to you all. More updates coming soon.

- Tim, Joe & the SkyCube team.