Kyrgyz space program: what we have done since the beginning of summer

Satellite builders' team. Photo: Kloop / Kyrgyz space program

Nine months have passed since the launch of the Kyrgyz space program and its satellite building school for girls, whose participants are building the first satellite of Kyrgyzstan.

It is time to share all the news about our progress!

We have decided what type of satellite to launch

The most important achievement of the autumn 2018 was that we have finally decided what type of nanosatellite we are launching.

It will be a TubeSat nanosatellite, which is very small, fits in the palm of the hand and has a cylindrical shape. The most important thing that we are going to learn during assembling and after the launch is how to receive and transmit signals between the satellite and our ground station.

TubeSat nanosatellites (left) and transparent CubeSat structure (right). Photo: Interorbital Systems

Moreover, we will learn to receive and transmit signals in cases when the satellite is not above Kyrgyzstan.

This will be done with the help of a friendly network of antennas that we want to join. Thus, for example, when the satellite will be orbiting over California it will send a signal to one of the antennas of this network, and we will receive data via the Internet.

Though the first satellite seems to be simple, assembling it is not easy. And in general, we have finally decided that the first satellite should not be too complicated, otherwise we will just not launch anything. However, starting from the second satellite, it will be possible to construct something more sophisticated.

Trainings

In July the first foreign coaches came to our school. 

Nurana Akhundzade and Lala Mukhtarova, engineers from Azerbaijan, conducted two-week courses on robotics on the Arduino microcomputers for girls.

Lala (left) and Nurana (right) are soldering the motor to the Arduino microcomputer. Photo: Kloop / Kyrgyz space program

Our satellite builders tried working with the plastic model of our satellite printed on a 3D printer. Nurana will come back to us later, when we will start working with the prototype of the satellite.

3D printer is upgraded

After working with our first 3D printer, satellite builders decided to make it more powerful and functional. Not an easy task of course, but the coolest 3D printer in Kyrgyzstan is on its way!

In order to make it happen we decided to improve it by ordering new brains — the main control module, which is responsible for calculations and coordination.

In addition, we received new engines and a nozzle for the 3D printer. With the help of this new equipment our new printer will be able to print using five plastics at the same time. All of it will be necessary to print some parts of our future satellite. 

New office

The Kyrgyz space program has moved with its parent organization, “Kloop Media”, to its new office. Now we have a separate room in the Kloop office where the participants will assemble the satellite. There is a video of the tour around the new room from our head coach Alina in one of the previous Patreon posts.

Media and public speaking

In mid-October, an article about Kyrgyz space program was published on the TED website — perhaps the world's most famous conference on technology, education, and design.

This has triggered a domino effect, and over the next two weeks several western media outlets wrote about the satellite building school for girls, including Quartz, the authoritative American technology magazine.

Because of that the number of patrons of Kyrgyz space program has rapidly increased, but we will tell about them in the next section.

In addition, Kyrgyz satellite builders are more frequently asked to deliver speeches at the events — and not only in Kyrgyzstan, but also in other countries.

In October Alina Anisimova and Aidana Aidarbekova gave a speech at the ZhasCamp conference in Almaty, a month later Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova gave a talk at [email protected]

Alina and Aidana are delivering a speech about the satellite building school at ZhasCamp 2018. Photo: ZhasCamp Kazakhstan

Additionally, Alina presented the space program at several events in Romania, Armenia and Georgia.

Funding

Back in January we started crowdfunding on the Patreon platform and by the end of November the amount of donations has reached more than $1,100 per month. This amount has increased particularly after the aforementioned article in Quartz magazine.

Moreover, since November we have a donor-organization in the Kyrgyz space program — the Internews organization will donate sufficient amount of money that will cover expenses on building, testing and launching two (!) nanosatellites.

This does not mean that we no longer need patrons — there are quite a few unforeseen crazy ideas (for example, to test a prototype of the satellite in the mountains of the Issyk-Kul region), the costs of which are not included in the Internews grant, but are necessary to make the satellite launch happen.


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