SpaceX founder Elon Musk has served as an inspiration for those who aim to launch their own satellites into space.
Now that NASA's spaceships have retired, there still might be a way to participate in space exploration.
Enter this generation's plans for space travel: Zac Manchester is taking this whole private space age into his own hands. A Cornell graduate student, Manchester hopes to raise enough money to launch 100 chip-sized satellites into space.
The DIY satellites are called The Sprite Spacecraft. It packs power, propulsion, communications onto a single silicon microchip. It's a shrunken down Sputnik.
The goal? He wants to raise $30,000 on KickStarter.
According to the project page:
This first version can’t do much more than transmit its name and a few bits of data - think of it as a shrunken down Sputnik - but future versions could include any type of sensor that will fit, from thermometers to cameras.
Now as far as space junk goes, the satellites will only be launched into low-altitude orbit so they will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere a few days after launch. While the first iteration of the satellite can't do much more than transmit initials and some data, Manchester hopes this is the first step towards democratizing access to space.
The Cornell graduate student isn't the only one with satellite ambitions. Another scientist Kosta Grammatis, through his nonprofit A Human Right, has been raising money to purchase a retired satellite that could give people access to the Internet.
Photo via Kickstarter project page
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com