If you were handed the controls to a satellite, what would you do? Track meteors? Photograph hurricanes? For as low as $125, not-for-profit startup ArduSat will put anyone behind the controls of its miniature satellites to pursue any project they can dream up. The same team has since launched a parent company, NanoSatisfi, that brings space-based data to enterprise clients using the same satellites.
Three and a half weeks before it launches its first satellites, NanoSatisfi announced today that it has picked up $300,000 in additional funding from personal robotics investment company Grishin Robotics. The money will go toward hiring employees in hopes of bringing on “exceptional talent on board now rather than later,” according to CEO Peter Platzer.
Unlike most emerging commercial satellite companies, NanoSatisfi is not focused on taking images of the Earth. Platzer said the 4-inch-wide cubes are equipped with a camera, but they are better suited to monitoring weather, collecting information for agriculture and tracking assets like large container ships. He also said their ArduSat program is ideal for schools, where they can supplement textbook learning with an interactive, hands-on space experience.
NanoSatisfi plans to launch lots of satellites in the next few years. The first two, which are part of the ArduSat program, will go up August 4, with a third following on December 5. Anyone can sign up on NanoSatisfi’s website to get satellite time through ArduSat, which can run multiple experiments on each satellite at the same time. It costs $125 for three days and $250 for a full week.
The satellites are known as ArduSats because of their Arduino brain. An Arduino is a tiny, open-source computer that is popular for do-it-yourself projects due to its accessibility to beginners. Users can write specialized code or use templates that NanoSatisfi will begin collecting.
Kickstarter backers will be among the first people to have control over the satellites. ArduSat raised more than $106,330 from 676 people last summer. Backers who pledged at least $325 received three days or more of time to run custom experiments or applications. Lower pledge amounts earned backers 15 pictures shot from space. NanoSatisfi has since tacked on free days and photos to the rewards.
“The number of launched satellites is projected to nearly double in 2020 in comparison to 2013, and the company is very well positioned to become a leader of this emerging market,” Grishin Robotics founder Dmitry Grishin said in a release. “We are excited about the nanosatellites market which is gradually becoming a more significant part of the robotics revolution.”
This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. on July 12 to clarify the difference between ArduSat and NanoSatisfi. While both use the same satellites and NanoSatisfi is ArduSat’s parent company, they serve different audiences.