The Atmel powered ArduLab is en route to the International Space Station (ISS) on board a Cygnus cargo spacecraft design by the Orbital Sciences corporation. The Cygnus – currently traveling at 17,500 mph in Earth’s orbit – is on track to rendezvous with the ISS on Sunday, Sept. 22. In the meantime, Orbital Sciences has confirmed that the two power-generating solar arrays on the Cygnus spacecraft have deployed as planned.
The ArduLab, a highly capable experimentation platform ready for space right out of the box, is built around Atmel’s versatile ATMega2560 microcontroller. The low-cost, open-source, NASA-approved container ArduLab can be programmed just like an Arduino. Although the most recent mission is headed to the International Space Station (ISS) on Cygnus, the ArduLab is more than capable of operating on a number of suborbital launch vehicles and parabolic aircraft.
“Until now, experimentation in space has been limited by governmental red tape, high costs, lengthy research and approval processes, [plus] having to work with multiple vendors. [However], ArduLab is a turnkey solution that removes the regular difficulties of hardware and logistics and further opens space research to everyone from high school students to drug companies,” ArduLab co-founder Manu Sharma explained.
“You can purchase ArduLab’s space program to do sub-orbital research through XCOR, or buy an Ardulab and work with partner NanoRacks to get to the ISS. Once you receive your Ardulab, simply put your experiment inside the container, program it using Arduino (leveraging the many existing Arduino tutorials found online, if you wish), FedEx it to parent company Infinity Aerospace and then receive video and data output from its journey in space.”
According to Sharma, ArduLab is currently working on capabilities for real-time data, as well as video and control. And although ArduLab’s early customers include the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), the ArduLab co-founder emphasized that the platform was also designed with students and educators in mind.
“For the first time, classes and students can [conduct] space experiments and get results within 2 semesters. CASIS (an independent non-profit organization funded by NASA) is funding a nation-wide competition for students to develop microgravity experiments with ArduLab and launch them to ISS – this is the first step towards ArduLab becoming part of school curriculum,” he added.
Interested in sending your experiment to the ISS and beyond? The Space Explorer Program includes ArduLab 1.0, an additional ArduLab board for experimentation development, launch slot to space and an Infinity Aerospace basic payload support for $4,995.
You can also customize your Explorer Program for an additional fee, while the Space Conqueror Program ($34,995 yearly subscription fee) offers unlimited flights to space, 3 x ArduLab 1.0, ($250 for each additional ArduLab 1.0) and a “Getting Started in Space” lesson with Infinity Aerospace engineers.
Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out Infinity Aerospace’s official page here. Readers may also want to peruse the infographic below which details just what ArduLab is capable of doing for your experiment.