Man Behind Moore’s Law Bankrolling Cubesat Mission

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PARIS — Clyde Space of Scotland will build two 4-kilogram cubesats to be launched in 2017 to study ocean color worldwide in a mission financed by a private U.S. foundation, Glasgow-based Clyde announced April 20.

The two satellites, intended as precursors for the Sustained Ocean Observation for Nanosatellites (SOCON) constellation, will carry sensors designed and built by Cloudland Instruments of Santa Barbara, California. The project is being led by  the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

Clyde Space, whose UKube-1 spacecraft was launched in July to study radiation effects on satellites, will provide the satellite’s platform, system design, integration and prelaunch testing, Clyde Space Chief Executive Craig Clark said April 20 in response to SpaceNews questions.

Clark said the satellites will be launched on separate rockets – yet to be chosen – for redundancy and to permit their operation in different orbits.

The mission’s total value is $1.675 million. Program managers are aiming at a launch in early 2017.

Financing is from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, created by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife. Moore’s Law about computer power doubling every 18 months or so is one of the reasons why cubesats today are able to perform functions that would require much larger satellites even a few years ago.

Clyde Space, formed in 2005, is now developing 33 satellites at its Glasgow facility, the company said.