Update of the KiwiSAT Project: 1 October 2021

By 10th September we were making good progress on the outstanding issues associated with KiwiSAT, and I produced the Break In article covering the status of our project at that time (for the Sept/Oct issue).

Where we have been Since?

Within a couple of days after writing that article, I had an approach from a launch provider, offering us a place on their December 2021 Launch. How do you reduce a two year project program into three months? Initially I thought we would never be able to do it, but in discussion with several others, item by item we worked through the compromises we could adopt in the time available, and the only two remaining uncertainties were a) re-registering the launch with IARU and ITU, and b) raising the launch costs. Ian Ashley and I were invited to a zoom meeting with two people from the launch provider to discuss the options, and it was with a sigh of relief when, the following day, the provider themselves said they wouldn't be able to schedule us for the December launch in the time available to them – but asked us to keep in touch for a future launch date.

For the December launch we would have needed to make several compromises. We would not have had time or funds to provide better solar panels, and we would have needed to disassemble the whole KiwiSAT chassis to insert our replacement set of batteries. Rob Carter ZL2IW was rushing to get the schedules for re-registration submitted, and Simon Stannard ZL2AFE was faced with raising several hundred thousands of dollars at short notice!

What is next?

The sobering fact was that, faced with an extremely short time constraint, we had learned two things:

  1. All our technical problems could have been overcome through compromise work-arounds,
  2. A KiwiSAT launch was changed from "wishful dream" to becoming an achievable certainty.

So we are now back to having a rational work program which could result in a successful launch within 24 months. Some of the things we need to address are:

Launch Coordinator