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Open Source Software Hardware

How the First Open Source Software and Hardware Satellite UPSat Was Built ( 25

UPSat is the first open source -- both hardware and software -- satellite to have ever been launched in orbit. Pierros Papadeas, the Director of Operations for Libre Space Foundation, which helped build the UPSat, talked about the project at FOSDEM, a non-commercial, volunteer-organized European event focused on free and open-source software development. You can watch the talk here; and read an interview of him with folks at FOSDEM ahead of the talk here. Two excerpts from the interview: Q: What challenges did you encounter while designing, building, testing and eventually launching UPSat in orbit?
PP: The challenges where numerous, starting with the financial ones. Lack of appropriate funding led us to invest heavily in the project (through Libre Space Foundation funds) to ensure its successful completion. Countless volunteer participation was also key to the success. On the technical side, with minimal documentation and knowledge sharing around space projects we had to re-invent the wheel and discover many procedures and practices in a really short time-frame (6 months - unheard for a space mission). Lack of tools and equipment made our building process a creative exploration as we had to figure out ways to achieve specific tasks resorting to purpose-built projects in our local lab ( Testing and verification facilities where also a challenge mainly as we had to undergo much more extensive tests than other missions, having none of our components already "flight proven". Again creativity and countless hours of negotiations and documentation got us to the final delivery point. Launching UPSat in orbit was secured once the delivery happened, but as any typical space mission it came with long delays and timeline push-backs.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish by giving this talk? What do you expect?
Through this talk we would like to raise awareness for open source initiatives in space, and inspire open source technologists (engineers, programmers, analysts, makers) to engage in an open source project. We would also love to gather feedback and ideas on next steps and provide contribution opportunities for interested parties.

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How the First Open Source Software and Hardware Satellite UPSat Was Built

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yeah. Sure.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Sunday February 11, 2018 @06:55PM (#56105577)
    Great explanation of using open source material, no explanation of its function.
  • But I did a quick glance at the wiki, etc, and still have no idea what the purpose of this thing is.

    • Re:Maybe I have ADD (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday February 11, 2018 @07:25PM (#56105659) Homepage

      But I did a quick glance at the wiki, etc, and still have no idea what the purpose of this thing is.

      Yeah, it could really use half a line about what it's actually doing in the initial summary. But if you'd care to scroll down just a little:

      Primary Payload
      On-board UPSat, the primary payload, a science unit is integrated. The science unit (designed by the University of Oslo and supplied through the Von Karman Institute as part of the QB50 program) will be used for plasma measurements during the mission duration.

      • Secondary Payload is a camera, so maybe we'll get some open-source (freely available?) imagery as well. Don't know what it will be pointed at or how good the images will be. I'll be following this to see what comes of it.
    • by porges ( 58715 )

      It's like updog, but with sat.

  • I bet the Atlas-V rocket it was launced on uses closed source software and hardware.
    That's like the laptop being fully open source, but the charger being proprietary, so you're basically locked into a closed source system. Yawn.

  • First open source satellite in 2018? So what was closed source about OSCAR-1, 1961?

  • HAM radio was first (Score:4, Informative)

    by qwerty shrdlu ( 799408 ) on Sunday February 11, 2018 @08:21PM (#56105835)
    OSCAR-1 was launched in 1962 and all its design details were made public. Of course, it had no software. [] []
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You DO understand how "made public" is greatly different from "open source license" right? Also are you aware of ITAR regulations? All NA-OSCAR designs up until now are restricted due to them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Ham Radio community Oscar 1 satellite published its schematics and had pictures of its assemblies in the early 1960s before commercial satellites were launched.

  • I think the whole deal is that open source was always a great way to create things. Sure, it has both good and bad sides, but the fact is... Open source opens so many roads and possibilities, provides you with so many ideas that you simply can get lost in it. Although i work at [] i do enjoy to take a part in open source projects.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein