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Satellites To Try Formation Flying on ISS

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the fly-straight-fly-well dept.

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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docking? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15226695)

Re:docking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15226869)

that sounds so gay.

Cool (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15226697)

First!

Satellites and soccer... (2, Funny)

Ze Emperor (968070) | more than 8 years ago | (#15226715)

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

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

HAHAHA! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Star Wars (1)

packetmill (955023) | more than 8 years ago | (#15227568)

Just wait till the Russian satelites get up there. $100 they'll kick some tremendous NASA ass.

Re:Star Wars (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229099)

But.. who pays for russian satellites...

Other uses? (5, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15226721)

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

Re:Other uses? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15226812)

I was thinking more about Phantasm [wikipedia.org] , and can imagine the astronauts being chased down tiny corridors.

Holy crap! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15226747)

First post! Woohoohoooo! Now I feel like a REAL man!

Re:Holy crap! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15226844)

Now I feel like a REAL man!

Whatever floats your boat, but you're not going to find one here. It's nerds all the way down...

The Real Purpose... (5, Funny)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15226775)

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!

Re:The Real Purpose... (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15226823)

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.

Re:The Real Purpose... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15226899)

its about the telescopes: http://www.spacedaily.com/news/ngst-99e.html [spacedaily.com]

Not really. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15228877)

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 on repair of the james webb telescope as well as future upgrades.

Interestingly, this could be used by the military for taking over an enemy sat, rather than destroy them (turn the tool against its owner; ueful considering that NK and Iran are putting sats into space). The uses are nearly infinite.

Re:The Real Purpose... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15226930)

Popup blockers will need frikkin' laser beams attached to their heads to wipe out that kind of popup.

Less AdBlock, more AdSeekoutandDestroy.

The race is on... (2, Funny)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15227497)

Who's the first to hack the system, and display a giant goatse in the evening sky?

Otherscales (2, Informative)

DrYak (748999) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229843)

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? (2, Interesting)

anzev (894391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15226781)

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 other robots / sattelites. This way it would be easier to get their position and allow the astronouts to monitor it remotely...

Re:Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15226959)

Havent you watched the movie alien? In space, no one can hear you scream! Space is a vacuum, there is no air for sound waves to travel.

Re:Old news? (1)

dohzer (867770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15227461)

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?

Re:Old news? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229112)

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.

Re:Old news? (1)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15230988)

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.

Re:Old news? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15232928)

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 calculation.

SPHERES (Worst acronym ever) (4, Interesting)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:SPHERES (Worst acronym ever) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15226908)

Makes you wonder what came first, the acronym or what it stands for..

Re:SPHERES (Worst acronym ever) (4, Funny)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15226926)

"Hey, how about we call them Synchronized Position Hold Engage Re-Orient Experimental Satellites?"

"That's a great idea Johnson, it's descriptive, uses buzz words. I can't think of a better name. Sheer genius!"

"Thank you sir, oh hey, that spells out SPHERES!!"

"My God, you're right! What an amzing coincidence!!"

I pray to God it didn't happen like that, hopefully they came up with the name first for PR reasons. . .

Re:SPHERES (Worst acronym ever) (1)

DirePickle (796986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15228001)

Don't forget congressional bills. USA PATRIOT Act, the OMG TERRORISTS Act, the HFS CHILDPORN Act, etc.

Re:SPHERES (Worst acronym ever) (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15228253)

WINE is not a GNU project.
WINE Is Not an Emulator is not a GNU's Not Unix project.
(WINE Is Not an Emulator) Is Not an Emulator is not a (GNU's not Unix)'s Not Unix project. ...

Re:SPHERES (Worst acronym ever) (1)

alerante (781942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15229219)

Should've called 'em "Synchronized Position Hold Engage Re-Orient Experimental SPHERES". That way the acronym is both long and recursive!

Re:SPHERES (Worst acronym ever) (1)

Ster (556540) | more than 8 years ago | (#15232552)

Not only that, but it's *tail recursive* [wikipedia.org] . That means it can be optimised to iteration.

:-)

-Ster

Hots tips from the Dart mission (1, Funny)

waynemcdougall (631415) | more than 8 years ago | (#15226925)

...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...

co34 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15227046)

= 1400 NetBSD Come on baby...and polite to bring

Eclipse ? (1)

alexandrecc (970052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15227141)

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 ?

Russians do it better (3, Informative)

Guillermito2 (911866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15227190)

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."

Re:Russians do it better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15227610)

What keeps NASA from doing this, Russian patents?

Re:Russians do it better (1)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231016)

So in other words, in Soviet Russia, space stations dock you.

Why CO2 instead of O2? (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 8 years ago | (#15227776)

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?

Re:Why CO2 instead of O2? (4, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15227890)

Probably because carbon dioxide compresses very well (which is why you see it in soft drinks and compressed C02 cartridges in the terrestrial world). Also, oxygen is dangerously flammable.

Re:Why CO2 instead of O2? (2, Informative)

bjheu (854460) | more than 8 years ago | (#15227981)

More accurately... They maintain a fairly delicate balance of O2 to Nitrogen, They've done that ever since the Apollo Flash Fire. Also they have scrubbers to remove CO2 therefore it really is the least intrusive gas to work with.

Re:Why CO2 instead of O2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15235838)

I can speak with some authority (having worked on SPHERES). CO2 is nice because it liquifies under fairly modest pressure. While the propulsive efficiency is pretty poor (impulse/kg), it's nice from a density standpoint. As far as the load on the ISS life-support, part of what we had to show was that a complete venting of all the tanks was equivalent to 1-2 extra people on board.

Unit systems (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15228099)

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.
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