back to article Experimental satellite-slinger seeks cargo: What could go wrong?

If you've got an application for a small satellite and a stomach for risk, the European Space Agency wants to hear from you. Next year, it's planning a multi-launch demonstration from its Vega spacecraft on a proof-of-concept flight for the Small Satellites Mission Service. The test launch of the Small Satellites Mission …

  1. j.p

    Ssms smms smss

    The acronym misses in this article! Cmon Ed!

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Note solid fueled rockets usually give the payload a harder ride

    And Vega is a solid fueled rocket.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Let me get this straight ...

    ... They want me to pay to make my bird a guinea pig? Somehow that doesn't sound like a good value for the money.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

      Re: Let me get this straight ...

      I don't know what the going rate is for a satellite launch, but I imagine it's heavily discounted for anyone who will be acting in a guinea pig role

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Let me get this straight ...

        That's nice. Who is going to reimburse me for the raw materials, fabrication & test? Titanium and radiation hardened electronics don't exactly come cheap, you know. To say nothing of satellite engineers, of course.

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

          Re: Let me get this straight ...

          The "reumbursment" is the reduced cost of launch, and added bonus of earlier launch now.

          In simple terms, launch now for a small amount of money and start making use of your skyborne asset early (while accepting the risk the the launch might fail)...or wait, all the while losing the opportunity to exploit your satellite's value, and pay more money for a more reliable launch (which, to be fair, could still fail).

          It's all about how the customer views risk versus reward - even if you aren't prepared to take that chance, there will always be somebody who will.

        2. cray74

          Re: Let me get this straight ...

          Titanium and radiation hardened electronics don't exactly come cheap, you know.

          There's expensive and there's expensive. For example, an off-the-shelf radiation-hardened, flight-proven processor usually starts in the vicinity of $80,000. That could buy you an ingot of several tons of wholesale titanium.

          The big cost for titanium or almost any other material going into a spacecraft is not the purchase price, but the design, labor, testing, and reworking, which are usually less sensitive to the underlying material.

  4. Nik 2

    Smells like opportunity

    Come on, El Reg. This could be a chance to get those paper aeroplanes launched into space in a big way.

  5. hammarbtyp

    I have a small package I wish to deliver to permanent orbit

    The Test Release Unrecoverable Missile Program will be a go, just once we have obtained the necessary payload

  6. nematoad Silver badge

    Oh dear!

    With the large amounts of space junk already threatening satellites any proposal for increasing the ease in which such stuff is launched should be looked at very carefully indeed.

    Given that cubesats are by definition small it seems to me that it would be nigh on impossible for the owners to guarantee that they were capable of being disposed of safely. An 800 Km orbit would probably take a long time, if ever, to decay and where would you put the equipment for a controlled re-entry?

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Oh dear!

      Does a cubesat need a _controlled_ re-entry. If it dips back into the atmosphere there aren't going to be any pieces worth worrying about reaching aircraft flight levels or the ground, surely?

      If I've misunderstood the risk, my apologies - I've only skimmed "DIY Satellite Platforms" (O'Reilly) since picking it up in Humble Bundle.

  7. Evil Auditor

    TTT - Tremendous T Tower

    "Mr President, you wanna go big, don't you? I mean very, very big. Tremendously big! Bigger than ever. We - you and I and all the people who love you, so in short: all the people - we are going to build the greatest building, we are going to build bigly. We are going to build YOUR 500km high tower! And you, only you, will lay its foundation stone right at the top of what will be the top of your building. Now grab this brick with your tiny hands, climb into this box lift elevator and wait for it to arrive at the top."

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