MTS-1 is a 1U CubeSat: a miniature satellite for research in space. With size/weight constraints of just 10 cubic centimeters and 1.33 kilograms, a lot of technology must be packed into the tiny satellite while still remaining lightweight. The CubeSat standard is currently used by private companies and universities to carry out research projects, but little to no high schools have programs that involve the development of a custom CubeSat due to the inhibitive high cost of ‘space-grade’ parts. The obvious biggest cost of space technology is getting it into space. Fortunately, there exist many companies that will launch CubeSats for free, alongside larger satellites. Additionally, small essential parts can be tens of thousands of dollars, with sensors going into the hundreds of thousands.
MTS-1 seeks to change that. Through the development of custom hardware and software, we are able to make components functionally equivalent or similar for fractions of the cost; the entire MTS-1 system will cost less than $1000 to manufacture.
In order to remain low cost, MTS-1 relies on easily obtainable materials – like $10 915Mhz transceiver modules from HopeRF and a standard CubeSat aluminum frame. Coupled with a Teensy 3.6 for processing and control, this allows the satellite to send and receive signals from Earth and act based upon them, just like a full-size satellite. MTS-1 will bring blockchain technology to third world countries, bringing the people free services like banking, social networks, and a local internet for transparent, anonymous communication.
Here is a rendering of the prototype 3D modeled frame that we are going to be manufacturing. It is very small – about 100mm or 4in cubed.
It is colored black due to the fact that black absorbs the most heat, a useful effect when orbiting in space. The hardware (screws) are all stainless steel as per regulation. This is the only part of the CubeSat that is not finalized as we are still working on designing a mechanism for attaching and deploying the solar cell hardware.