06/05/2014 12:32 BST | Updated 06/05/2014 12:59 BST

KickSat Sprites May Be 'Doomed' After Power Reset In Space

More than 100 people who spent thousands to put their own tiny satellites into space might be about to become very disappointed.

The KickSat project was designed to take dozens of small, lightweight satellites into orbit via a crowd-sourcing campaign.

The satellites are tiny - about the size of a 50p - but contain all the tech that the Soviet Sputnik satellite did back in 1957.

The idea of the experiment was to give the project's founder the chance to study how the satellites moved in space, while giving the funders the chance to receive their own private text message from miles above the atmosphere.


The campaign was a success, raising more than twice its target for a total of $74,568 - and the satellites made it into orbit aboard the Nasa contracted private craft CRS-3 launched on 18 April to resupply the International Space Station.

Unfortunately there's a snag. While the satellites made it into orbit, the host vehicle has reportedly suffered a reset problem which means the satellites won't be released on time.

The problem with the master clock means that the satellites won't be released into orbit until 16 May - after the craft is scheduled to burn up in our atmosphere.

It's possible the problem could be fixed, but the project's creator Zachary Manchester said the situation looks "bleak".

"We've spent the last couple of days here at Cornell trying to think of every possible contingency, but it seems there aren't very many options right now. KickSat's uplink radio, which we could use to command the deployment, can't turn on unless the batteries reach 8 volts, and it doesn't look like they'll reach that level in time."

"We'll continue tracking KickSat over the next few days with the help of the ham community, so that we can keep track of its battery voltage and the Sprite deployment status."