Brown University students launch low-cost satellite on SpaceX rocket

Brown University students, with a low-cost satellite, are blasting off on a budget.

It’s called SBUDNIC, not to be confused with Sputnik, the Soviet satellite that launched in the 1950s. This one is much smaller, about the size of a loaf of bread. On either end, cameras equipped with fisheye lenses will snap grainy photos of Earth and beam them back to the ground every 10 minutes, and temperature data will be recorded.

All for the low, low price of $10,000.

That may seem like a hefty chunk of change, but in the space world, it’s far from astronomical.

Marco Cross, chief engineer with Brown University's SBUDNIC project, holds a model of the space satellite that will take photos of Earth and record temperature data.

“A lot of the choices that we made were necessitated by the fact that our budgets were small,” said Marco Cross, the project’s chief engineer, who recently graduated with a master’s in biomedical engineering. “There’s two ways of looking at this. One is that we intentionally made things really cheap, but that implies that we had some sort of choice in the matter. We didn’t.”

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