Followup: Rah Rah Wren

906_513_744I briefly mentioned Wren- the German project (STaDoKo) that’s not a CubeSat (10x10x10 cm), but a PocketQube (5x5x5).  It was launched and deployed successfully, and amateur radio enthusiasts may have received its signal.

That blurb didn’t really do it justice- did I mention this satellite is 5X5X5 centimeters, despite flying a camera and an experimental attitude control/navigation system, including electric thrusters?  But wait, where does the astronaut fit?

There is no ’50s fighter jock.  There are only four German geeks, now that it’s the 21st Century.  “STaDoKo UG” stands for Sacha Tholl, Matthias Stahnke, Bastian Döen, and Paul Kocyla, the “four guys in a garage” that are, legally and now in practice, a satellite company.  Their mission control center?  Corner of someone’s house.  Their operating procedure?  DARE.statwmccOf course, failure is very much an option.  No one seriously expects four guys in a garage to nail it the first time.  Still, the very fact that they put hardware on the launch pad is impressive in general, let alone from four guys in a garage.  Mind you, the first Soviet and US attempts were quite the crapshoots; of course we now have hindsight, experience, and a supplier/contractor base that have had their own attempts.  Thus, STaDoKo put quite sophisticated hardware on the pad, far more capable than the first Soviet/US spacecraft.

This hardware appears to be “alive” in the electrical sense; we’ll see how much sophistication they can demonstrate with it, over the life of the electronics.  Spacecraft could barely aim in 1957, much less aim well enough for a camera.  Plasma thrusters didn’t even exist.  And should their “mini-corporation” fail on this particular flight, they can rebuild another (or possibly even upgrade their ground prototype) for less than the cost of a nice Mercedes, let alone the cost of a typical satellite project.

Dare on, Deutscher.


One thought on “Followup: Rah Rah Wren

  1. Pingback: Followup: More Legwork (Still Not Enough) | cableflux

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