MacDirectory Magazine

Warren Manser

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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INTERVIEW SKYCUBE >BE PART OF SPACE EXPLORATION INTERVIEW BY MARKIN ABRAS Instead of playing a game on your iPad or trying to find a date with your iPhone, why not do something more meaningful? For the first time, you will be able use your iPhone and be part of space exploration. Tim DeBenedictis, who developed SkySafari — a cool astronomy app for your iPhone and Mac — has created a nano-satellite named SkyCube, which will allow you to broadcast messages and take pictures from space. By contributing to the SkyCube Kickstarter campaign, you have the opportunity to broadcast your personal message or take pictures during its mission. You will not only learn something new, but very likely to impress your friends and family. According to the website, the project successfully reached its funding goal on Sept. 12. The first launch was July 14. Campaign contributions start as little as $1 for a single message containing 120 characters and $6 for six messages and one photograph. However, to get flight tickets to the historic launch, a contribution of $10,000 is required. On this contribution level, you will be able to broadcast 10,000 messages, snap up to 2,000 pictures, receive a movie of Earth from orbit, get two round-trip tickets to Cape Canaveralto see the liftoff, get a radio receiver that can pick up the transmissions and receive cool SpaceX Falcon 9 and SkyCube T-shirts. MacDirectory publisher Markin Abras had the opportunity to chat with Tim DeBenedictis to learn more about SkyCube. Visit for more details. Markin Abras > Where does the name SkyCube come from? Is it a reference to Steve Jobs's Cube computer he introduced in 1986? Tim DeBenedictis > Actually, the "Sky" prefix comes from the branding of our other products - SkySafari, SkyFi, SkyWire, etc. "Cube" should be pretty self-evident: it's a CubeSat. The truth is, it's hard to come up with a name that's snappy, descriptive, and meaningful … and doesn't collide with somebody else's trademark or domain. When I found out that "" was still unregistered, that clinched it for us. MA > How did the project idea come about? TD > The whole SkyCube project came out of a trip I took with a friend to watch the final Atlantis launch last July. It was the last shuttle launch, and we decided - right on the spot - that we were going to do something to keep the spirit alive, now that we had all this iPhone money. That is where SkyCube idea really came from. MA > With your mobile apps, users will have the ability to observe the night sky in a new way. Can you explain how much control a user will have over what he or she wants to view? For example, can SkyCube's camera be pointed toward a specific point on Earth? Or a particular planet? TD > SkyCube has passive magnetic stabilizers, which will align it to the Earth's magnetic field, like a compass needle. Since the orientation of the Earth's magnetic field lines varies considerably at different latitudes on the Earth, the satellite will experience different orientations as it travels on its 52-degree-inclined orbit. So we've put cameras on each of the four faces of the satellite. At any one time, two cameras will be pointed Earthward, and two will be pointed away. We'll throw away the images looking upward, and store the Earth-facing images. Your best bet, if you're trying to capture a particular shot, is to take a lot of images. One of them is bound to be in the orientation you want. 102 MacDirectory

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