A space program known as CubeSat, developed as a combined effort between Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University (Cal Tech), is given students and companies an opportunity to launch functional satellites.
These “do it yourself” satellites are tiny, weighing in at only a kilogram and generally measure 10 centimeters on each side. However, these functional satellites cost roughly $40,000 to build and only $40,000 to launch. Pretty cheap compared to the $350,000,000 price tag of a commercial satellite.
The satellites will orbit the Earth about 240 to 360 miles above the planet. Cal Tech will take care of all bureaucratic and logistic hurdles of launching the satellites.
What are some of the applications? Stanford and QuakFinder launched a CubeSat that monitored seismic energy emitting from faults to detect earthquakes. A University of Tokyo CubeSat takes digital photos and sends down the pictures to earth. Students at Independence High School in San Jose are using a CubeSat to exchange information between their school and another school.
Personally, I’m going to use my satellite to do spy work, but that’s just me.