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Your own £19 Pocket Spacecraft could be FOUND ON THE MOON

Is that a Scout in your pocket or are you just pleased by the idea?

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An international team of scientists, engineers and designers is offering mere mortals the chance to fly to the Moon for as little as £19 via the Pocket Spacecraft: Mission to the Moon initiative.

The boffins have come up with a cunning plan to launch a rack of slimline "Scout" spacecraft, specifically "flexible hybrid printed electronic 80mm diameter/50um thin disks, that will be loaded into a 3U Interplanetary CubeSat Mothership and hitch a ride to a geosynchronous transfer orbit or other suitable orbit in space on a commercial rocket", as project founder Michael Johnson explained to El Reg.

The Scout spacecraft

He elaborated: "Citizen space explorers who back the project will be able to personalise their own Scout spacecraft by adding a picture or message direct from their favourite social media, game profile or create their own unique design.

"More technical explorers will be able to develop and upload custom software using an Arduino compatible environment, and even design and fly custom printed electronics. Every Scout has a basic science package with those who customise their software or hardware able to develop and fly their own science and technology experiments or even games such as laser tag – in space!"

Regarding the mission profile, Johnson explained: "The Interplanetary CubeSat mothership will first release some Scouts into the Earth's atmosphere to demonstrate landing on the surface of a planet with an atmosphere from space, and then set off to the Moon.

"When it arrives many months later, the fleet of Scouts will be photographed as they are released into an unstable Low Lunar Orbit to perform their science mission and then de-orbit on the surface to complete their mission in accordance with international standards for disposal of spacecraft at the end of their mission."

Johnson's a veteran of the Interplanetary CubeSat Workshop at MIT and the the Keck Institute for Space Studies Small Satellites: A Revolution in Space Science workshop at Caltech.

He said of this attempt to open space to the masses: “By backing this mission people will revolutionise space exploration and space science. By democratising interplanetary space exploration we will create a generation of young explorers who can use the same affordable methods to explore Mars, Venus and beyond.

"We’re building tools so that one day every child will be able to send their own spacecraft on a robotic field trip in space."

Admirable stuff, but Johnson and the team need to raise £290,000 down at Kickstarter by 26 August to guarantee lift-off for their space invasion. You can sign up for your own Scout right here, where there are full details of the mission, including technical background for your space geek reading pleasure. ®

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