After spending several months refining the designs to the Ultrascope, the Open Space Agency (OSA) are formally releasing the Ultrascope Explorer Plus.
Founded by James Parr, the Open Space Agency aims to create a community of individual space explorers to observe space for approaching asteroids. The team developed an open source automated robotic observatory, or ARO, that anyone interested in space exploration can download and build with a 3D printer.
“Fifty years ago space exploration was the domain of governments,” explains Parr.
“Recently things have changed again. We’re now seeing the emergence of platform technologies such as cube sats, additive manufacturing and low-cost micro controllers that are further driving down the cost of space exploration, finally allowing anybody to conceive and launch their own space program.”
The Ultrascope Explorer is powered by a smartphone, and enables anyone to monitor asteroids in space and inform NASA with a build-in system that uploads the information to be analyzed by NASA scientists.
Altogether – without the smartphone – the cost of building the telescope is just $312. The idea is that “you use one screw and an Allen key and then you can literally just get the parts and then construct it.”
“Our vision is to enable a new era of citizen aerospace exploration through enabling [consumer space] technologies,” added Parr.
“This is part of a bigger vision of citizen space exploration enabled by open technology platforms.”
So, what’s new about the Plus version.
The Plus version has amongst other things a larger 6″ mirror and improved focuser, to enhance the ease of image capture.
What’s more, the overall number of parts for the Ultrascope Explorer have been reduced, removing unnecessary complexity and radically improving the time to assemble. This in turn also minimizes 3D printing time and other associated costs.
The Open Space Agency is launching instructions on how to build Exploreer as a series of releases. This will help immensely with support and also they hope the community will be able to help each other as they go along.
Part 1 of the release will provide makers with files to 3D print and laser cut all parts required for the build. You can download the files and talk to the Ultrascope community on Wevolver.
This should set everyone up to order materials and get ready for the focuser build which will be released as Part 2. This will be followed by the Tube Build (3), split ring build (4), base build (5), electronics (6) and finally software release.