CubeSat is Cal Poly’s plan to make space accessible to the rest of us. That is, they want to make it easy and cheap enough to launch satellites that even high schools can get a chance at it. Engadget says they call it “the Apple II of space exploration” (link added). Here, read this:
The CubeSat Project is a international collaboration of over 40 universities, high schools, and private firms developing picosatellites containing scientific, private, and government payloads. A CubeSat is a 10 cm cube with a mass of up to 1 kg.
…we provide a standard, reliable, and flight proven deployment system. The Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer, or P-POD, is a tubular, spring loaded mechanism taking up very little space. It can be integrated into any launch vehicle and protects primary payloads from the CubeSats and vise-vera. By repeatedly flight proving the P-POD design, we hope to instill confidence in launch providers, primary payloads, and organizations interested in flying experiments on CubeSats. We envision a day when P-PODs can manifested into a mission with minimal per launch integration time and engineering costs.
Launch costs are said to be about $40,000, while Engadget figures construction costs will run another $40,000. CubSatKit.com offers parts (price list) that they say fully conform to the design specification (oversized drawing).