Over the past few years we’ve seen amateur efforts become increasingly important in practically everything we do. Just to name a few examples: blogs have taken over the media, collaborative computing efforts (like [email protected]) outstrip supercomputers, and even scientific research has reached out to the individual with expansive projects such as the Zooniverse. Add to this the open source programming movement and it’s clear that the way our society goes about its business is being democratized.
One can see the very start of this in space exploration also. Smaller, more nimble, companies, such as SpaceX and Blue Origin are beginning to take on “the big guys”. And yet, there is still a long way from a company like SpaceX with a capitalization of over $100 million and individual citizens.
Far Horizons is about democratizing the exploration of space. Our goal is to design, build and launch a CubeSat mission armed with help of volunteers, interns and the community. We aim to launch a satellite for the sake of science and exploration. Among our ideas is “Cheap Impact”. Cheap Impact is our own take on the highly successful Deep Impact mission to comet Temple 1 in 2006. Our intention is to intercept, impact and collect data about a Near Earth Object. Cheap Impact will consists of two parts, an impactor, and a stand-off observer. More than just a “proof of concept” mission, Cheap Impact is designed to return real, valuable data vital to our understanding of objects that have a great bearing on life on Earth. If you question the importance of such an understanding, I would suggest finding a dinosaur to ask what he thinks about the importance of Near Earth Asteroids. Alternate mission concepts are also under consideration. Your input is part of the plan. We hope to launch in 2015.
In the meantime we have a lot of work to do.
While long term goals are under development, the Far Horizons project is cutting its teeth on high altitude ballooning and beyond. The challenges facing a high altitude balloon mission are similar to (or even more extreme than) those in orbit: extremely low pressure (<1% sea level), cold (less than -60C), limited power, mass, communications, and high radiation fluxes among other challenges.
And now with SPARK, we’re entering the newest Space Age – the age of space exploration for all. Come join us!