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Zachary R. Manchester and KickSat
KickSat Sprite prototype

KickSat is a small satellite (femtosatellite) project inaugurated in early October, 2011, to launch a large number of very small satellites from a CubeSat. The satellites have been characterized as being the size of a large postage stamp.[1][2] and also as "cracker size."[3] The mission launch was originally scheduled for late 2013[4] and was launched April 18, 2014.[5][6]


The project was "crowd-funded" through Kickstarter.[7][8][9] Part of the appeal was in offering "personal spaceflight", the chance to effectively and affordably own and operate one's own satellite.[10][11][12][13]


In its minimal configuration, each Sprite femtosatellite will be designed to send a very short message (a few bytes long) to a network of ground stations.[14] Firmware developer kits were sent to donors who contributed enough to qualify for customizing their own Sprite.[15]

Sprites can be organized into fleets; one of them will be named for the British Interplanetary Society.[16] London Hackspace has begun work on its own ground station.[17]

Inaugural mission[edit]

KickSat launched on an ISS commercial resupply mission, SpaceX CRS-3, originally late 2013,[4] now April 18, 2014.[18] On April 30, 2014 the microcontroller managing the master clock had been reset due to a technical problem. This resulted in a two week delay of the launch of the sprites. On May 14, 2014 KickSat reentered the atmosphere and burned up; all sprites were lost.[19]


  1. ^ Radu Tyrsina (October 11, 2011). "KickSat to Launch Postage Stamp-sized Satellites into Space for $300". Mobile Magazine. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  2. ^ Fish, Elizabeth (Nov 14, 2011). "Explore Space With A Spacecraft The Size Of A Postage Stamp". Geek Tech (blog). PCWorld. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  3. ^ Garling, Caleb (2012-12-24). "Personal satellites that fly into space". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-12-26. 
  4. ^ a b Bruce Dorminey (November 28, 2012). "First Kickstarter Funded Satellites To Launch In 2013". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-12-26. 
  5. ^ "KickSat Has Been Deployed in Low-Earth Orbit". 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2014-04-26. 
  6. ^ O'Neill, Ian (2014-04-14). "Helium Leak Forces SpaceX Launch Scrub". Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  7. ^ Zachary Manchester (Oct 4, 2011). "KickSat -- Your personal spacecraft in space!". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  8. ^ Mark Brown (10 October 2011). "Kickstarter project will launch hundreds of personal satellites into space". Wired UK. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  9. ^ Wayne Hall (Nov 17, 2011). "An orbit of your own, "KickSat" crowdsources spaceflight". Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  10. ^ Boonsri Dickinson (October 10, 2011). "Send your own satellite into space". CNET. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  11. ^ Michael Doornbos (Oct 21, 2011). "Evadot Podcast #86 – Would you like to have your own spacecraft in space? says you can". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  12. ^ Johnson, Michael; Manchester, Zachary; Peck, Mason (Jan 30, 2012). " - an open source ChipSat dispenser and citizen space exploration proof of concept mission". Rhode-Saint-Genèse (Brussels), Belgium: Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics. p. 91. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  13. ^ von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics. "Fourth European CubeSat Symposium". Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Peter Murray (October 15, 2011). "Sprites – The Computer Chip-Sized Spacecraft That Will Send You a Text Message (for $300)". Singularity Hub. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  15. ^ John Biggs (October 9, 2011). "KickSat: Send Tiny DIY Satellites Into Space". Techcrunch. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  16. ^ Andrew Vaudin (Oct 24, 2011). "Join the BIS in space". Featured Articles. British Interplanetary Society. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 
  17. ^ AMSAT-UK (November 19, 2011). "London Hackspace work on HackSat1". AMSAT-UK. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  18. ^ "Worldwide Launch Schedule". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  19. ^ "KickSat has reentered". Retrieved 2014-05-18. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]