TubeSat deployment from the ISS Kibo Module (Photo: JAXA)
Planet Earth has entered the age of the Personal Satellite with the introduction of Interorbital's TubeSat Personal Satellite (PS) Kit. The IOS TubeSat PS Kit is the low-cost alternative to the CubeSat. It has three-quarters the mass and nearly the same volume as a CubeSat. The hexadecagon-shaped TubeSat is assembled from a set of printed circuit boards (PCBs). Each TubeSat kit includes the printed circuit board (PCB) Gerber Files, solar cells, batteries, a transceiver, antennas, an Arduino microcontroller, plus a space for the builders application or experiment. With these items, the builder can construct a satellite that allows two-way communication between Earth and LEO with as little as a hand-held amateur radio unit.
IOS satellite kits are designed to give the builder a private platform for on-orbit experimentation. Simple applications include sending a repeating message from orbit, programming the satellite to function as an orbital amateur radio relay station, or taking pictures of the Earth from space. Since most IOS satellites are placed into self-decaying, 310-km, polar orbits, they do not contribute to the long-term build-up of orbital debris.
A partially assembled IOS TubeSat
- OD: 8.94 cm, ID: 8.56 cm, Length: 12.7 cm
- Printed circuit board (PCB) Gerber files
- Electronic components
- 50x 2.52 Volt 31 mA solar cells
- Lithium Ion 3.6 Volt battery
- Radio transceiver (requires authorized radio frequency allocation)
- Dipole communications antenna
- Arduino 5 mini microcontroller
- Launch to polar Low Earth Orbit included
TubeSats built by the Mexican Space Collective and a CubeSat
|Kit Model||Payload Mass||Price per unit|
|1U TubeSat||0.75 kg||$8,000 (academic)|
|2U TubeSat||1.5 kg||$16,000 (academic)|
|3U TubeSat||2.25 kg||$24,000 (academic)|
|4U TubeSat||3 kg||$32,000 (academic)|
Prices apply only to academic purchases. Commercial customers should contact IOS for pricing. TubeSats can also be ordered in 2U, 3U, and 4U configurations, which consist of two, three, or four TubeSats connected in series. 2U, 3U, and 4U TubeSats have double, triple, and quadruple the mass allowances of a 1U TubeSat. Prices are also doubled, tripled, or quadrupled for 2U, 3U, and 4U TubeSat kits respectively.
Team members from the Tancredo Middle School in Ubatuba, Brazil
Tancredo Sat-1, an IOS TubeSat kit assembled by students from the Tancredo Middle School in Ubatuba, Brazil, was launched to the ISS by a Japanese H2 rocket and deployed from the Kibo module in January, 2017. The school group was supported by the Brazilian Institute of Space Research (INPE), the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), and Interorbital Systems engineers. It was the first TubeSat to be placed in orbit.
The satellite carried an audio recording device as payload, which transmitted an audio clip chosen by a contest among the school's students. Nearly 100 students participated in the construction of the satellites by soldering small components and designing circuits for their applications. Also included in the payload was an INPE simplified Langmuir probe, which studied plasma bubble formation in the ionosphere.