Planetary Resources including CubeSats in its space telescopes

You remember that crazy company backed by a whole bunch of not-so-crazy people that plans to go out and mine asteroids for fun and profit, right? It turns out that Planetary Resources is the special kind of crazy that's out to better humanity, and one of the ways it's doing that is by adding CubeSats to its space telescopes.

CubeSats are sats that are cubes. What, you want more detail than that? Okay fine: a CubeSat is a satellite that's stuffed into a standardized cube 10 centimeters on a side and weighing no more than a few pounds. They're usually covered in solar panels and only last for a couple of years, but as far as satellites go, they're damn cheap: educational institutions can build them without having to write massive grants, which is inevitably a tedious and soul-sucking process.

What isn't quite as cheap is the actual launch process, which (even for something so small), can still easily run into the several tens of thousands of dollars per sat. This is where Planetary Resources comes in: in order to mine asteroids, it's going to need to find asteroids. And in order to find asteroids, it's going to need space telescopes. Lots of them. We've heard rumors of everything from "fleets" to "swarms" of its Arkyd-100 design. While it's sending all of these things up, Planetary has decided that it may as well stuff a CubeSat into each, because why the heck not.

The first time a CubeSat-equipped telescope launches, that CubeSat will be getting a free ride, and you (YOU!) can participate in an online CubeSat design challenge if you want to try and score the spot. If you don't win, though, it's probable that Planetary will be getting a bulk discount for all the stuff it wants to launch into orbit (likely with Virgin), and if it decides to pass those savings on to you, it could be a big step towards making space that much more accessible to those of us trying to build orbital microdeathrays in our garages.

Via Planetary Resources

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