Up above the world so high

Aerospace. That is where the excitement lies these days. During the interview, Upton talked about his favourite kind of project. “I am a big fan of space-style projects, and Dave Akerman is the one who has been doing some fascinating work in sending Raspberry Pi up in weather balloons.” The latest iteration of the device features radio telemetry, slow scan digital video (SSDV) images, a 3G link for video and backup telemetry. It sends a live video stream as well.


Aerospace projects are no more something that governments alone can do. For instance, SpaceX and Elon Musk have made the sector hot from both a commercial and passion standpoint, with its ultimate goal stated to be that of enabling people to live on other planets.

Would you like to…
Let us take a look at how open source solutions have helped build cool aerospace projects, and how you can leverage the same for your aerospace project.

… perform space experiments
Setting up experiments that can be run in the International Space Station (ISS) is not far-fetched anymore. Explore some of these cool open hardware solutions that will let you do just the thing.


PX4 flight management unit (FMU) I/O kit
PX4 flight management unit (FMU) I/O kit

This is probably one of the most famous projects to have taken the humble Arduino and ridden it to space. It is built to the specifications of CubeSat, which was developed by Stanford University, the USA, and California Polytechnic State University, the USA, back in 1999. CubeSat specifications basically call for a 10cm cube that fills up to a volume of exactly one litre, and can weigh up to 1.33kg.

Equipped with cameras, sensors and radios, the project is built to be an open source platform that will enable others to run experiments in space without having to send up a satellite of their own.

ardusat.com is a very good source for learning resources. Set up with the aim to expand science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) innovation to space, it features everything from the basics to features that enable you to understand the numerous sensors that can be placed on satellites and how to use these. It also makes individual space kits available, which include Arduino Uno, lessons on remote sensing, a collection of sensors and other components.

Astro Pi
Would you rather explore the universe on the earthly-named Raspberry Pi? The Raspberry Pi Foundation recently announced that they have teamed up with British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake to send Raspberry Pis to space, where these will be connected to the Astro Pi board. How cool is that!

Once in the ISS, these Raspberry Pi computers will be connected to Astro Pi boards, which come loaded with a collection of gadgets and, of course, sensors.

Rocket Mega revision 2
Rocket Mega revision 2

Astro Pi systems will be deployed in a number of different locations on board the ISS, where these will collect the generated data and download it to Earth, where these will be distributed to the teams.

Astro Pi allows students the chance to devise and code their own experiments or apps to run in space. The Astro Pi board or hardware attached on top (HAT) comes with a gyroscope, magnetometer sensor and an accelerometer, as well as a suite of sensors that can detect temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. There is also a camera module and an infra-red camera module attached to it.

The foundation also set up a competition to promote code development, which is set under five themes, namely, spacecraft sensors, satellite imaging, space measurements, data fusion and space radiation. This event has several space agencies involved, such as the UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, ESERO-UK, Airbus DS, National Nuclear Laboratory and the National Physical Laboratory.



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