KickSat race to deploy

[Note: This article was originally published in the May 5 edition of the RocketSciRick Update. KickSat unfortunately was not able to deploy its sprites before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere on May 14.]

kicksat_spriteAlthough KickSat was successfully deployed into orbit during the SpaceX CRS-3 launchon April 18, 2014, a glitch happened on the satellite. A hard reset that affects the master clock happened on the morning of Wednesday, April 30. Since other parts of the satellite seem to be operating normally, the likely cause is some form of space radiation.

From the time the clock starts, it counts 16 days to deployment of the 104 sprite spacecraft that KickSat houses. If the reset had not happened, deployment would have happened on May 4. However, with the reset, the date was moved back to May 16.

“Unfortunately,” says project lead Zac Manchester, “it looks like KickSat will most likely reenter and burn up before the 16th. We’ve spent the last couple of days here at Cornell trying to think of every possible contingency, but it seems there aren’t very many options right now. KickSat’s uplink radio, which we could use to command the deployment, can’t turn on unless the batteries reach 8 volts, and it doesn’t look like they’ll reach that level in time.”

There is a small chance that the batteries will recharge before then or KickSat might survive beyond May 16. For now, it is still alive, and ham radio operators are still reporting packets to the KickSat Ground Station in Google Groups.

More info on KickSat:

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