The age of the personal satellite has arrived. After 6 years of rummaging through electronics stores for specialist parts, and tinkering away in his parent’s basement Song Ho-jun has built his own communications satellite, the OpenSat. Now the OpenSat homemade satellite is complete and ready for launch.
In a recent interview Song said “Making a satellite is no more difficult than making a cellphone.” Going on to say “I believe that not just a satellite, but anything can be made with the help of the internet and social platforms. I chose a satellite to show that symbolically”
Song realised early on that he would need the assistance of experts in the field. Reaching out over the internet he eventually received support from many commercial experts. “I’m just an individual, not someone working for big universities, corporations or armies, so they open up to me and easily give out information,” said Mr Song.
OpenSat may not be the first private satellite but it is the first personal satellite built and funded by a single man. The handmade marvel of miniaturization, OpenSat 1.0 weighs in at 1kg while measuring 10 cubic centimetres.
The complex design integrates communications functions, solar panels, sensing arrays and enough computing power to keep things running, OpenSat is a fully fledged communications satellite. Radio operators around the world will be able to communicate with the satellite. It will also transmit information relating to its battery status, temperature and rotation speed. The OpenSat will also visually call out with a Morse code message broadcast using LED lights at a pre-determined time and location, every orbit.
Incredibly Song has managed to integrate a communications system as powerful as commercial satellites of a few decades ago, far more powerful than Sputnik which had a whole country behind it.
Song, an engineering student and high tech artist, isn’t content with being the first homemade satellite creator, instead he has also created the Open Satellite Initiative (OSI). An attempt to give everyone access to the information required to create your own space bound project. An initiative driven by his belief that through the use of the internet and social media an individual can overcome any problem. The concept for the OSI occurred to Song while an intern at a private satellite company and provided much of the motivation for his OpenSat project.
OpenSat contains $500 worth of parts, the launch, from take-off to orbital positioning will cost $100,000. With the assistance NovaNano who acted as brokers Song was able to book a slot into space. To be launched in December from the Kazakhstan cosmodrome.
Incredible things can indeed be achieved when you reach out over the internet. Will we eventually see the day when a private satellite of our own comes with every mobile phone plan, it may be a long way off but as Mr Song has demonstrated anything is possible, even by a lone individual.