Hello, Team SkyCube!
It's been a quiet week, but rest assured, we've been hard at work. First, though, a quick status check:
We're over the 70% funding mark. There are more than 1400 of us who've sponsored the mission, and we have 10,000 "likes" on Facebook. Wow!
So let's push on to the finish line. Let's prove that crowd-funding can work, that social media really can open the new frontier, and that space really does belong to everyone. Here's what you can do:
1. Convert "likes" into "dos". If you know someone who "likes" SkyCube, but hasn't yet sponsored, give them a nudge. Reach out to them in person. At the end of every facebook profile and twitter feed is a real, live, human being. Make that contact. Bring them aboard.
SkyCube has over 10,000 "likes" on Facebook. If each one of those Facebook "likes" sponsors just $3, we'll be at the finish line ... tomorrow.
2. Sacrifice a pizza. Our average sponsorship level is $39. If you've sponsored below that average ... would you consider increasing your pledge? If everyone who's sponsored below the average level adds just $20 to their sponsorship, we'll be across the finish line.
Twenty dollars is about the cost of a large pizza. You can have a pizza, or you can take pictures from a satellite that you helped launch into orbit. (And really, you can probably have that pizza too.)
That is the power of a crowd united in a common cause. We are really, really close. Let's make history together.
We met with technology reporters from publications like SocialPixels.tv, the Bay Area Reporter, GIGA.de, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Here's Curtis Hollister's "Crowded Places" interview (video, 18 min) on SocialPixels.tv.
- Here's the SkyCube story in the Bay Area Reporter.
And there's more of this to come. You, team SkyCube, are now becoming a global phenomenon!
What Goes Up...
We haven't just been talking to reporters. This week, we have some progress to report on SkyCube's balloon. First, a bit of history:
This is Echo-1: the first balloon ever launched into orbit and inflated in space. It was a passive communications satellite, designed to bounce radio waves from continent to continent. It was over 100 feet across, and - while it lasted - one of the brightest objects in the night sky.
Many people alive at the dawn of the space age remember seeing Echo-1 cross the sky, and thinking, "Wow! People put that up there. I wonder what else we can do?"
That wow moment is something we want to recapture with SkyCube.
... Must Come Down!
But now that we're 52 years further into the space age, SkyCube's balloon serves a second purpose, not quite so important back in 1960. The balloon will drag SkyCube down from orbit, harmlessly vaporizing like a meteor in the upper atmosphere. SkyCube's balloon will prevent it from becoming space junk that might accidentally collide with one of the many thousands of other satellites in orbit.
This is a first for a CubeSat mission. No one's done this before. So how do we make it work? How do we miniaturize the balloon, and its inflation mechanism so that it fits into half of a 10-centimeter cube?
Here's a sneak preview of what we've been up to in the lab since our last update:
Here's a link to the video.
It's deceptively simple. When we're ready to inflate the balloon, a nichrome burn wire releases a spring, twisting a gas cracker, which pierces our 8-gram CO2 cartridge. It worked every time we tested it in the lab. It worked in a vacuum chamber. Upside down. Sideways. Frozen.
Sometimes simplicity works best.
We're in the final stretch, now. This is where your outreach really counts. Earlier you doubled yourselves in a week. We have three weeks left to go. Let's do it again.
-Tim, Chris, David, David, Scott, Rouslan, Mark, Kevin, Tyler, and the rest of Team SkyCube