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Satellites To Try Formation Flying on ISS 42

SoySauc writes "From a story on the New Scientist site: 'A soccer-ball-sized satellite will soon be floating aboard the International Space Station. Once joined by two others, it will help researchers test formation flying and autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers for future orbiting satellites.' NASA's DART mission was designed to do the same thing, but in 2005 shut itself down and bumped into the satellite it was only meant to approach."
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Satellites To Try Formation Flying on ISS

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  • ... should never be mentioned together without also mentioning marine mammals.

    Btw, around here, soccer balls are known as mini death stars...

  • HAHAHA! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 29, 2006 @03:57AM (#15226716)
    NASA's DART mission was designed to do the same thing, but in 2005 shut itself down and bumped into the satellite it was only meant to approach.

    HAHAHA Euro-fa... oh, uh. Right. NASA.
  • Other uses? (Score:5, Funny)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @03:58AM (#15226721) Homepage Journal

    By the look of it you could also use it for lightsabre practice. Indoors, at least.

  • by Gerzel ( 240421 ) <brollyferret@gEI ... minus physicist> on Saturday April 29, 2006 @04:20AM (#15226775) Journal
    I wonder what else you could do with formation flying satalites?

    Oooh put a bunch of high power leds or lasers on those suckers and you could use them as pixels. Pop-ups IN SPAAACE!
    • So our favorite flaming fox is going to need a spacesuit soon?

      In all seriousness (*ahem*) though, if that happens I know who to kill.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      its about the telescopes: http://www.spacedaily.com/news/ngst-99e.html [spacedaily.com]
      • This has so many uses, that is is amazing that we have not developed it before. Consider what it takes to work on the ISS, or a future moon/mars stations. The more often that humans are outside, the higher the risks to them. OTH, if this works, it will enable us to first develop sats. to work on the outside of the ISS, that are controled by the ground. Later, it will be a semi-autonomous task-orientated robot. This will also be useful for modifiying other sats in space (perhaps the hubble). This can be used
    • Popup blockers will need frikkin' laser beams attached to their heads to wipe out that kind of popup.

      Less AdBlock, more AdSeekoutandDestroy.
    • Who's the first to hack the system, and display a giant goatse in the evening sky?
    • Otherscales (Score:3, Informative)

      by DrYak ( 748999 )
      Although it needs much larger scale of formation (formation with miles between elements). Extremly precise formations of satelite, can be used to do Interferometry [wikipedia.org] to try to detect Gravitational radiation [wikipedia.org].
      LISA [wikipedia.org] is such an exemple. (but it's Solar sattelite, following the same orbit as the earth and keeping constant formation.)

      ...that... or having the "??AA" trying to enforce non skipable Ads.
      And every "\/1@gr/\" seller of the planet trying to buy ad space on them.
  • Old news? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by anzev ( 894391 )
    I'm not sure why this is news, I mean, seeing that a simillar robot was planned and partly developed in 2001 [nasa.gov].

    What I also don't understand is, why the heck the satellites use only ultrasound waves for navigation and positioning. Does anybody know, how they know if something is in front of them? Another robot, a wall, a person? It doesn't say anything about any additional sensors does it? Hopefully it has some :-).

    I would also include wireless technology on board to allow the robot to talk to the ship and
    • I also found using ultrasonic sensors a little weird.
      Even if it's only while the satellite is inside the ISS, why not start using sensors that will work in space from the get-go?
      • not if the sensors are basically drop-in components. Then you'd just do the cheapest thing you can think of that lets you concentrate on the thing-you're-really-concerned-about.
        • Also,

          a) Flight dynamics are going to be different in air than in vacuum and
          b) Sonar is essentially worthless in air past a few feet.

          I feel like IR would have been a better choice here.
          • Ah, but how about using sonar as a drop-in replacement for radar? at slow speeds, and short sampling intervals, the atmosphere is close enough to vacuum for your control system to deal with. radar/sonar might be interesting to deal with, but even that can be handled in the sensor side with appropriate interface circuitry. If your drop-in sensor unit provides "distance to nearest object in sensor beam" and not "time of return of last ping" then you can drop in any combined system that can handle that calc
  • by ookabooka ( 731013 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @05:06AM (#15226891)
    From the article:

    The first SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage Re-Orient Experimental Satellites)

    Ok. Yes it's cool sometimes to think of a clever name for something that just happens to spell out a nifty word, but this is crazy. Is "Synchronized Position Hold Engage Re-Orient Experimental Satellites" really descriptive? Would you put that horrid name on a technical paper? Only GNU projects such as WINE (WINE is not an emulator) should use ridiculous acronyms.
  • ...docking maneuvers for future orbiting satellites.' NASA's DART mission was designed to do the same thing, but in 2005 shut itself down and bumped into the satellite it was only meant to approach."

    Maybe I can get some hot pick-up tips from this Nasa Dart guy. I shut down on approach alright, but don't even get to bump into her after that.

    Oh satellites docking....never mind...

  • Will there be some hype for the first eclipse between the ISS, the soccer-ball-sized satellite and the earth ? I think I won't go to work that day. I could not handle the fact that I missed that kind of eclipse with my pinhole blackbox.

    Any further project for peanut-sized satellite around the soccer-ball-sized satellite ?

  • by Guillermito2 ( 911866 ) on Saturday April 29, 2006 @07:47AM (#15227190) Homepage
    Curiously, and despite a lot of success in many domains, NASA never fully mastered automated orbital rendez-vous, which is almost routine for USSR and then Russia space agencies, since almost 30 years (and is very important for keeping the International Space Station fridges and tanks full). Here [space.com] for example we can read :

    "The Soviet Union performed the first automated rendezvous in 1967 and since then, Russia has used fully automated systems to dock Soyuz and Progress spacecraft to its space stations."
  • I'm wondering why they didn't use compressed oxygen instead of compressed carbon dioxide? If the choice was arbitrary, why put the extra strain on the ISS's life support systems by adding more CO2 to the environment? I'm guessing there's a good reason to use CO2? Any ideas?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I bet this soccer ball sized satellite in a space station the size of a football field will generate a Library of Congress worth of information.

Happiness is twin floppies.