Saturday, June 14, 2008

Microspace news: Farewell to CHIPSat

CHIPSat was one of the smallest and cheapest of modern space science missions, having consumed only $14.5 million when it reached orbit in 2003. The Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer satellite was designed to look for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) emissions. It produced significant science on a tiny budget of $100,000 a year. The mission's "parents" at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory have proposed other experiments and would be happy if NASA turned their bird on again, but in today's space budget climate, even $100K is hard to find. CHIPSat was the first satellite to communicate by Internet Protocol (IP) and the first built by the entrepreneurial space firm Space Dev.
COMMENT: CHIPSat showed everyone that you really could do important sicnece missions "on a shoestring" if everyone did their jobs right. Congratulations to the people of SpaceDev, NASA, UCB, and other organizations involved in this pioneering mission.

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