NASA, DARPA seek research proposals for Space Station

  • 06-May-2010 04:12 EDT
179781main_SPHERES12.jpg

Three satellites fly in formation as part of the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) investigation.

NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are asking for proposals to better utilize the International Space Station as a test bed for advanced space technologies. The effort is centered on Synchronized Position, Hold, Engage, and Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES)—bowling-ball sized spherical satellites used inside the station to test maneuvers for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking. The three satellites—each self-contained with power, propulsion, computing, and navigation equipment—fly in formation inside the station's cabin. A new program, International Space Station Spheres Integrated Research Experiments (InSPIRE), is designed to use SPHERES to test advanced space technologies and facilitate student and public participation in the development process. NASA and DARPA are soliciting ideas to bring the power of crowd-sourcing—a concept in which many people in a community can contribute ideas or concepts—to SPHERES experiments.

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