Start-up aims high with DIY satellites

A GLASGOW start-up is hoping to capitalise on growing international interest in the “DIY space age” by making miniature satellites available for the price of a car.

PocketQube Shop, headed by Glasgow Caledonian business studies graduate Tom Walkinshaw, provides off-the shelf components to create launchable satellites from just over £20,000. The 2in cubes can be stacked to create larger spacecraft.

The technology is the brainchild of US professor Robert Twiggs, who created a larger and more expensive version of PocketQube called CubeSats which have been in orbit since 2003 conducting research and demonstration missions. They are also being used in commercial ventures, including plans to broadcast universal internet across the globe from space.

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Walkinshaw believes PocketQubes will increase demand for “nanosats” by making them available to a wider audience. Four Pocket­Qubes are in orbit.

His online store was set up with £3,000 raised through the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform, which gives investors “rewards” such as T-shirts or product discounts rather than an equity stake.

Work is now under way to expand the PocketQube Shop product line by adding new elements such as communications hardware.

“The traditional space industry is very risk-averse,” said Walkinshaw, who will be speaking this month at an event hosted by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

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