SAN FRANCISCO and WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., July 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Stars, the leading provider of mobile applications for amateur astronomy, and MacTech Magazine, the journal for Apple technologies, jointly announced the world's first personal, interactive satellite mission today. SkyCube will allow everyone, all over the world, to participate in its launch, "tweet" messages, and obtain pictures of the earth from space. MacTech is the project's first corporate sponsor.
"We want to create a space exploration experience that everyone can be a part of," states Tim DeBenedictis, Southern Stars Founder. "We are developing a nano-satellite, and mobile apps to go with it, as the focus for a global education and public outreach campaign." The satellite is a 10x10x10 cm '1U' CubeSat intended for launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2013. Orbiting more than 300 miles up, on a path highly inclined to the earth's equator, SkyCube will pass over most of the world's inhabited regions.
SkyCube will take low-resolution pictures of the earth and broadcast simple messages uploaded by sponsors. After 90 days, it will inflate a 10-foot (3-meter) diameter balloon. SkyCube's balloon will make the satellite as bright as the Hubble Space Telescope or a first-magnitude star. "You'll be able to see it with your own eyes, sailing across the sky," explains DeBenedictis. But SkyCube's balloon isn't just for visibility. It will - within 3 weeks - bring SkyCube down from orbit due to atmospheric drag, ending the mission cleanly in a fiery "grand finale" that avoids any buildup of space debris.
SkyCube will also send out a data pings every ten seconds. This will allow subscribers to broadcast messages or "tweet from space." Each message is 120 characters in length. "You will be able tweet your wife from space to let her know you will be late for dinner," jokes DeBenedictis.
"What attracted MacTech to support SkyCube was the prospect that anyone could be involved. MacTech has always been about bringing the community together, and SkyCube demonstrates the best of this," said Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of MacTech Magazine. "At MacTech Conference (October 17-19, 2012 in Los Angeles), we'll be doing some fun stuff around this project and giving the Apple technical community a great opportunity to be a part of history."
The SkyCube project is using Kickstarter to allow millions of people worldwide to be a part of democratized space exploration. For details, go to www.skycube.org
The SkyCube mobile app will be available on the iTunes Store, Google Play, and on any web browser. The basic sponsorship to participate in the mission is $1, which will allow the sponsor to tweet one message from space. There are several tiers of sponsorship available with the SkyCube Mission that people can choose from. Packages range from sending messages and getting pictures to viewing the launch live and actually commanding SkyCube for a day in space. Additionally, corporate sponsorships are available that include a logo on the inflatable balloon.
Southern Stars has already pioneered applications for astronomy with its SkySafari apps, and has changed the way people view the night sky. "Apps let people interact in a very personal way with a powerful computer that they have on them all the time," says DeBenedictis. "The concept of picking up a smartphone and getting pictures from space is novel. It isn't the same as watching it on TV or reading about it."
About Southern Stars
Southern Stars Group, LLC is headquartered in San Francisco. The company's mission is to help people tap into their natural curiosity about the cosmos, via their mobile devices they use every day. Southern Stars has a long history in the astronomy software business. The company has been developing planetarium software since 1993. In 2009, Southern Stars developed SkyFi, the first wireless iPhone-based solution for telescope control. That product, and the first version of the SkySafari iPhone app, won a MacWorld 2010 Best of Show award. Southern Stars was the also the first company to ship a Made-for-iPad serial cable for iOS devices (SkyWire). To date, Southern Stars' iPhone apps have been downloaded more than 1.5 million times.
About MacTech Magazine
Established in 1984, MacTech Magazine is the only monthly magazine focused on Apple at the technical level. Each month, MacTech Magazine, MacTech on iPad and MacTech.com are read by 200,000 technical Macintosh users in over 175 countries ... from network administrators to programmers, from consultants to solution providers to Enterprise, and in general anyone that's interested in the Macintosh beyond the user level. MacTech's live events, including MacTech Boot Camp, MacTech InDepth, and MacTech Conference, are specifically designed not only for the best learning experience, but the best networking and personal development environments as well. Toll-free: 877-MACTECH, International: 805-494-9797, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.mactech.com, twitter @mactech
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SOURCE MacTech Magazine