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Broadcast 1944 (Special Edition)Listen to the show!
Aired on February 5th, 2013
Guest: Zac Manchester
Guest: Zac Manchester. Topics: Zac's KickSat project, cubesats, crowd-funding, & more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. We welcomed Zac Manchester to the program to discuss his KickSat CubeSat open source mission using 200 Sprite ChipSats. You can learn more by visiting, and From these websites you can visit the KickSat wiki as well as the KickSat blog. We started our discussion with Zac Manchester with his providing us with an overview of his KickSat project and Kickstarter as a tool to fund some types of space ventures. Zac talked about launches being provided by the NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (/ELaNa) program plus the lack of traditional financing which caused Zac to give Kickstarter a try. The KickSat team started out wanting to raise $30,000 but instead raised nearly $75,000. He had much to say throughout both segments regarding crowd-funding and the use of Kickstarter. Zac also described the cubesats and the Sprite ChipSats. He talked about the importance of reducing the size of the unit and what this meant for mission design, propulsion, technology advancement, lower launch costs, and more. Several listeners emailed him questions including space debris questions since the 200 Sprite ChipSats would have a short life expectancy and then return to Earth. He said all would burn up in the atmosphere but he also talked about future missions where the units would float back to Earth as would a piece of paper. Technology advancement for this to happen must take place but he said it was certainly plausible. Other issues discussed in our first segment included secondary payments and payload integration. Regarding payload integration, he said their project goes to Cal Poly for peapod integration and then to the Cape from Cal Poly for vehicle integration. Cal Poly does the peapod integration for academic cubesat projects. A listener saw the project plans on one of the websites and inquired about making the hardware or buying a kit from Zac's group. As you will hear, the project is open source and people are encouraged to buy the off the shelf parts and make their own unit. Zac mentioned several online stores where the parts could be bought. We talked about the difficulty in getting a launch for a stand alone cubesat someone might build. In the second segment, we took a call from Charles Pooley who talked about building a small launchers to get away from secondary payloads and potential launch delays we he said were the barriers to this industry. Check out for more on the Pooley idea. Zac then told us about the March 16 workshop at the Hacker Dojo in Silicon Valley on how to set up KickSat ground stations. Zac described the ground station using Ham bands and suggested the cost would be around $200.00. Another listener asked Zac for his background & how he got interested in space & a cubesat project. Zac had much to say about the academic research that inspired him as both a Cornell undergrad and masters student. Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog above. You can contact Zac through his project websites and blog.

About our guest...

Zac Manchester
Zac Manchester is a Ph.D. student in Aerospace Engineering at Cornell and founder of the KickSat project. His research interests are in spacecraft dynamics and control but his passion is the democratization and expansion of access to space. Zac is currently spending the academic year at NASA Ames Research Center.

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