This has been a really exciting week. KickSat is now confirmed as a payload on the ELaNa 5 / CRS 3 mission. This will be the third Commercial Resupply Service flight to deliver supplies to the International Space Station aboard a Space X Falcon 9 rocket. KickSat, along with 5 other CubeSats, will be hitching a ride as a secondary payload thanks to NASA's ELaNa program. What does all this mean? It means that KickSat is scheduled to launch in July 2013 - less than 1 year away!
In order to get ready for this launch, a lot of work still has to be done. I'm very confident, however, that we'll be able to meet the challenges and deliver KickSat on time. So where do we stand right now? Well, the Sprite design, ground station hardware, and deployer are all pretty far along. The biggest remaining task is building the CubeSat bus avionics - all of the electronics to allow us to communicate with and control KickSat, like the flight computer and radios. While this is certainly not an easy job, there are many commercial off-the-shelf systems available to choose from, so we don't have to build everything from scratch. We're currently evaluating a few different options and I'll keep everyone posted as we move forward.
How does this affect all of you, our backers? While we'll be on a tight schedule to get everything built and tested for launch, I'm committed to the crowd-sourced roots of this project. This is your satellite! I've decided to make it a priority to get the developer kits shipped so that there will be enough time to develop cool projects before launch. This means developer kits will ship before souvenir boards. Right now it looks like there will be another round of prototypes and testing then, hopefully, if everything works, a small production run. It's hard to predict timing on these sorts of things since small errors or design tweaks can cost weeks of lead time on PCB manufacturing, but I think a shipping date in mid to late October is realistic.
I'd also like to ask anyone who is interested in setting up their own ground station to please contact me. I'm still working out the details, but there should be several options, from setting up all of your own hardware and using GNURadio on your PC to buying a kit that you can simply plug in like the one from CarpComm. The more people who can get involved, the better coverage we'll have and the more data we'll be able to get from the Sprites. Plus, how cool would it be to listen to your own satellite flying overhead?
Once again, thank you to everyone who has supported this project. It's really happening! This is going to be a very exciting year and I hope all of you will stay involved one way or another. As always, don't hesitate to contact me.