A few days before Elon Musk called off the launch of SpaceX’s AsiaSat 6 to “review all potential failure modes and contingencies again,” another inventor reaching for space sent his makeshift spacecraft 97,000 feet into near space, where it cracked through the Earth’s stratosphere before landing in an Oregon field just 60 miles from the original launch pad.
It’s a clear sign that the space race, once the realm of powerful governments and leading industries, has trickled down to curious individuals empowered with easily accessible, off-the-shelf computer components and gadgets.
Arduino, Intel Galileo and even Raspberry Pi are just a few of the programmable,data-crunching payloads makers are launching into space today to conduct their own near-space science experiments.
Compared with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecrafts, Jamel Tayeb’s handmade creation seems more like a helium balloon with an uncovered kite frame dangling from a string. But together they show just how quickly space exploration is evolving beyond NASA-led missions to outer space.
It was just two years ago that Falcon 9 made history when it lifted the Dragon spacecraft into orbit for a rendezvous with the International Space Station. It was the first time a commercial company visited the Space...