FOR something that is roughly the size of a shoebox, the Glasgow-made nanosatellite that will be fired into space today has a substantial workload.
UKube-1's payloads include a GPS device aimed at measuring "plasmaspheric" space weather, and a camera that will photograph Earth and gauge the impact of radiation on space hardware using a new generation of image sensor.
It will even have what its makers, Clyde Space, describe as an outreach payload allowing school children of all ages to interact with the spacecraft. Clyde Space sees its CubeSat as a showcase not only for new UK space technology but also for industry and university-based training in spacecraft development.
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Ukube-1 is the first satellite to have been designed and built in Scotland. The company's CEO, Craig Clark, says it will be the first of many; hundreds will follow in the years ahead. We have grown accustomed to seeing Scottish industrial know-how and entrepreneuralism flourish in all sorts of fields. In 2014, there is something particularly gripping in witnessing it beginning to thrive in what many of us still think of as the final frontier.