Hello Libre Space community,
I am heading a group of volunteer engineering and science students, as well as a school, and want to find out if it is realistic for us as a group of hobbyists to get a satellite based on free/libre tech into orbit within the next 2-3 years. Say the goal is to download a 3 kb image from it.
How much do the components of a LibreCube cost in total?
Which components, if any, are expected to still be outstanding by then and can they be procured commercially? What do they cost?
What does it cost to get it launched?
Do we need to build our own ground station? What are the options?
What are the main risks of the venture?
Surely the best people to give you a number on costs are those that already have sent open source satellites into space, such as Libre Space Foundation or oresat.
From the experience of LibreCube, I can tell you that our power module would cost around 300-400 Euro (PCB production, batteries and electrical parts). So you may assume 500 Euro per board, add margin (100%) and consider that you will build a number of these boards (for testing etc).
Structural parts (aluminum) are in the order of hundreds or thousands of Euros.
Overall, taking aside the launch costs, and considering you have free access to instruments, tools, and a vacuum chamber, the total costs may be in the region 30-50 kEuro. No upper limit, though!
Regarding ground station, please check out the SatNOGS network!
And here my personal advice:
Instead of launching (yet another) experimental satellite into space (there’s already lot’s of stuff up there!), how about you first go with a high-altitude balloon launch (or a high mountain)? This way, you can test drive all your system! And once this work 100% you can consider spending lot’s of money to actually go into space.