A SCHOOLBOY has built a satellite for less than £100 and is months away from launching it into space.

Matthew Reid, 14, from Haywards Heath has only been interested in space for two years, yet he is on the verge of sending his home-made satellite into orbit.

When he was 13, he was working on a project to launch a weather balloon with his school Warden Park, but the plug was pulled at the last minute.

The youngster was left frustrated, saved up his birthday money and set about getting his own project off the ground.

Matthew said: “I got really interested in space when I was about 13 after playing a game called Kerbal Space Program.

“I realised pretty quickly if I apply myself and put enough work into something then I can be reasonably successful.

“To build a satellite usually costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, and I don’t have that money, so I thought to myself: 'I have basic programming skills, that’s a start'.

“When I told my dad I wanted to build a satellite, he probably thought I was on something.

“But I saved my birthday money, bought the basics and it went from there.

“I wasn’t really expecting it to get this far or to even work, but right now it’s at the stage that it’s where it’s waiting to be tested.”

Matthew has started to refer to his satellite as the Space Van, and he envisages it could be used for ultra-long range communications, low cost global internet relay, earth observation, climate observation, as a test bed for more expensive technology, communications relay for moon missions, low cost space observatories for education, cheap science experiments and even a lander craft.

It is due to be tested at Surrey University this week and it is hoped it can be launched early next year.

In order to do so, Matthew will have to source £18,000, and is calling on sponsors to help him deliver the project.

If you’d like to get involved, email gareth.davies@theargus.co.uk or call 01273 544531.