“The future will look very different as we strip the information-carrying functions out of proxies and reduce them to their bare essentials. Entertainment centers will be redefined. Libraries will take on new charters. Educational institutions will be restructured. Cities will be transformed. This will happen because much of our physical infrastructure was just a low-bandwidth interconnection disguised as something real.”—The High Cost of Low Bandwidth - Bill Davidow - Technology - The Atlantic (via infoneer-pulse)
I’m Zac Manchester, a graduate student in Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. Over the last several years a few collaborators and I have designed, built, and tested a very tiny and inexpensive spacecraft called Sprite that can be built and launched into low Earth orbit for just a few hundred dollars each!
My goal is to bring down the huge cost of spaceflight, allowing anyone from a curious high school student or basement tinkerer to a professional scientist to explore what has until now been the exclusive realm of governments and large companies. By shrinking the spacecraft, we can fit more into a single launch slot and split the costs many ways. I want to make it easy enough and affordable enough for anyone to explore space.
Sprites are the size of a couple of postage stamps but have solar cells, a radio transceiver, and a microcontroller (tiny computer) with memory and sensors – many of the capabilities a bigger spacecraft would have, just scaled down. 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.