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Would you like to have your own spacecraft? Kickstart the personal space age by helping launch tiny spacecraft into low Earth orbit.
315 backers pledged $74,586 to help bring this project to life.

Asteroids and Code


Hi Everyone,

Sorry for another long gap between posts. We're pretty busy right now with only a few weeks left before KickSat is delivered for integration. I'll try to post more in the next few weeks to document the process.

This week I'd like to share a demo we set up for Maker Faire in New York. We 3D printed a scale model of the asteroid 243 Ida, embedded a bar magnet inside it, and mounted it on a rotating stand. We then used a Sprite development kit board to track the asteroid's orientation by monitoring its magnetic field. Here's a video of the demo in action:

To display the asteroid on the monitor in real time, we hooked the Sprite up to a BeagleBone via a serial port, which is running some python code to draw the asteroid on the screen. The code for the demo is on GitHub, so you can play around with it and try something similar with your own Sprite.

While this was done mostly for fun, asteroid magnetic fields are actually of great interest to planetary scientists. Someday Sprites may be able to help map and study them.

Next up, it's time for us to collect everyone's code to load onto Sprites for launch. I'm in the process of sending out emails to all development kit backers with a link to a web form where you can upload your Energia and/or C/C++ code (please do so in the next few days). If you paid for a development kit and you don't receive an email from me within the next 24 hours, please contact me. Once I get your code, I'll make sure it compiles and then I'll send you a confirmation email.

As always, thanks for your support!

- Zac

Tieg Zaharia and Jeff D. Hamann like this update.


    1. Creator Zachary Manchester on December 11, 2013

      Hi Andrew,
      Yes, I would very much like to do this, and any help you're willing to provide would be much appreciated. Maybe it would be best to discus this via email.
      - Zac

    2. Creator AndrewV-BIS on December 7, 2013

      Have you considered QSL cards for people receiving Sprite signals? Is this something you would like help with?

    3. Creator Zachary Manchester on October 26, 2013

      Hi Josh,
      If you actually want to pick up the radio signals yourself, you'll need an antenna, LNA, and SDR dongle, all of which costs about $200. I'm hoping to get a website up where we can log ground station data and display it on a map, so that if you don't have your own antenna set up you can still keep track of your Sprite. This is in the works for after KickSat is delivered.
      - Zac

    4. Creator Josh Fields on October 25, 2013

      Zac, not so worried about time between posts. It's so cool to see how things are progressing. I'm still a little concerned about how an average guy with minimal resources (cash) can track my own sprite via Internet if I have the right info, or do I need the full receiver setup?