South Korean man prepares to launch home-made satellite

Some people dream a little more than their peers, and not everyone manages to accomplish their dreams. Song Ho-Jun had very high-flying dreams, and he's on track to accomplish them now.

Song poses with OpenSat. It's almost hard to believe this will become a satellite.

The 34-year-old South Korean plans to launch a home-made satellite later this year, having built it for the equivalent of $500. The satellite, which is known as 'OpenSat', is unique. While there is a long history of homemade satellites being launched by groups of academics and universities, none have ever been funded by a single person before.

OpenSat is the first to be truly personal. Song Ho-Jun knows how to incorporate modern technology into his work. As an engineering student at university he created a piece he called 'Apple'. This piece used lightbulbs that would 'ripen', turning from green to red as people took photos with a flash.

His idea for OpenSat came to him when he worked as an intern for a private satellite company. He has contacted space professionals from across the world, including professionals from France and Slovenia, to make sure his project could work.

Song says their help has been given since he is an individual, and not representing a company or military. They are more willing to give him the information he needed. He didn't just rely on their information, though. He spent six years combing academic papers, buying components, and rummaging through the back alleys of the city of Seoul in the hunt for the hardware he needed. OpenSat weighs a single kilogram, measuring 10 cubic centimetres. It'll transmit information about its working battery status, the temperature, and the rotating speed of its solar panel. If you operate a radio, you can even communicate with OpenSat. Just don't expect it to say too much.

The image of the satellite is almost underwhelming. The pricing is hard to argue with, at least for the components, which are worth 500,000 won ($440). The actual launch? $120 million, provided by the French NovaNano company. The company acted as a broker to allow the launch, tracking down a rocket and submitting necessary paperwork. Launching a satellite isn't exactly cheap but apparently building one isn't particularly expensive.

The former home of the Soviet space program will become OpenSat's launchpad in December.

OpenSat will launch in December, from the infamous Baikonur Cosmodrome. Baikonur was the traditional home of the Soviet space program, so the name should be familiar to anyone with interest in this period of the Cold War.

When asked why he constructed OpenSat, Song replied with the following:

"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."

Source: The Telegraph
Baikonur Image via Wikimedia
OpenSat image via Dawn

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25 Comments

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500,000

The Koreans seriously need to redenominate their currency. Japanese Yen is bad enough, but the Won is, literally 10, times worse. They are the Zimbabwe of Asia.

Shiranui said,
500,000

The Koreans seriously need to redenominate their currency. Japanese Yen is bad enough, but the Won is, literally 10, times worse. They are the Zimbabwe of Asia.

You do know Japan is part of Asia right?

rfirth said,
My only concern is space junk... we keep putting stuff up there... what if his satellite hits another?

Um, the Apple will turn into an Apple pie? It's just one kg. Don't think it'll do much damage even if there is a collision which won't ever happen due to satellite positioning in stationary orbit and stuff. Earth's orbit it a pretty big place for all those sats to float around peacefully without running into each other.

Glassed Silver said,
This man is probably the king of geeks right now.

GS:mac

He looks more like an electronic music producer than a geek. You know, Skrillex! Even his name is Song. The way he's bending over that gizmo of his in the shot, looks like he's ready to scratch some disks.

500$ for a satellite? It can take millions to buy components that is radiation hardened, tested with a defect ppm << 0.1%, set it up in typical interstellar space reliability systems, and to test the system. $1 million in ensuring that the satellite is good is a drop in the bucket when it costs 100+million to ship it to space. I bet his 500$ satellite wouldn't last long once it passes the Van Allen radiation belt.

ekw said,
I bet his 500$ satellite wouldn't last long once it passes the Van Allen radiation belt.
Wouldn't be a loss though because goal was to simple get a working privately funded satellite to space. If it lasts all of a minute it is a success. Plus, privately created satellites creates a new market for this testing that costs so much right now. Could help drive prices down with a bigger market.

ekw said,
500$ for a satellite? It can take millions to buy components that is radiation hardened, tested with a defect ppm << 0.1%, set it up in typical interstellar space reliability systems, and to test the system. $1 million in ensuring that the satellite is good is a drop in the bucket when it costs 100+million to ship it to space. I bet his 500$ satellite wouldn't last long once it passes the Van Allen radiation belt.
Well, since the maximum level the Apollo members could have received during a MASSIVE solar event was 6 sievert - I'm sure this satellite will be just fine. Granted, 6 sievert will kill most humans (though around 8-10 is considered near 100% fatal, 6 is only around 50%) even the most basic commercial electronic is more than up to the task of handling that level.

The real issue is the launch, the g forces, the micrometeorites, and the extremely cold temps.

ekw said,
500$ for a satellite? It can take millions to buy components that is radiation hardened, tested with a defect ppm << 0.1%, set it up in typical interstellar space reliability systems, and to test the system.

The ISS astronauts use standard laptops, with high-performance chips that have not been radiation-hardened. Even with error-correcting RAM, the laptops still bluescreen about once per day on average. Unlike on earth, the crash tends to be caused not by buggy drivers, but because the chips add 2+2 and sometimes get 5. No big deal. They just reboot them when they crash.

Reliability increases costs exponentially. When you design something to tolerate a certain amount of error, you can save an enormous amount of money.

Wow. Now I'm really curious about what the satellite does that makes it worthy of sinking 120 million into getting it in orbit. The article says nothing about that, except that it reports back some diagnostic information.

If that's all it does... WHY?

ahinson said,
Wow. Now I'm really curious about what the satellite does that makes it worthy of sinking 120 million into getting it in orbit. The article says nothing about that, except that it reports back some diagnostic information.

If that's all it does... WHY?

Why climb a mountain? Because it's there.

ahinson said,
Wow. Now I'm really curious about what the satellite does that makes it worthy of sinking 120 million into getting it in orbit. The article says nothing about that, except that it reports back some diagnostic information.

If that's all it does... WHY?

Since the OpenSat is tiny and light, it's piggybacking on another satellite launch, just that approval needs to be obtained - and it has been obtained.

It's senseless to sink 120 million to get the one tiny sat into orbit. I doubt you even need a 120 million rocket to send 1kg to space.

But if a launch costing 120 million is already going to be made, piggybacking is probably much cheaper (I suppose the rocket used can handle the additional 1kg payload with no issues).

ccoltmanm said,

Why climb a mountain? Because it's there.

Exactly. This person figured out how to do it privately and cheaply. Now that it has been done once, someone else that may be smarter can expand on the idea. He can post his findings for others to learn from. Just like any other ventures in the past like climbing Everest or going to the poles, it use to take corporate power to make it happen. These days anyone with a few thousand dollars to spare can do it. The first step of private satellites is making the satellites cheaply. The second is making the expense of getting them to space cheap.

ahinson said,
Wow. Now I'm really curious about what the satellite does that makes it worthy of sinking 120 million into getting it in orbit. The article says nothing about that, except that it reports back some diagnostic information.

If that's all it does... WHY?

It allows the terran player to reveal a portion of the map, allowing them to reveal hidden units or find out the opponent's strategy.

it's very funny that launching is soooooo much more expensive than building. can't wait till my laptop battery is big enough to let me send something into space.

capr said,
it's very funny that launching is soooooo much more expensive than building. can't wait till my laptop battery is big enough to let me send something into space.

You wouldn't use a laptop battery, its li-ion and doesn't cope well with extremely hot or cold temperatures.

n_K said,

You wouldn't use a laptop battery, its li-ion and doesn't cope well with extremely hot or cold temperatures.
I think they meant to use the li-ion battery as the fuel to "send something into space" [sic].

I guess the obvious sarcasm was lost on you.