Astronauts Test Star Wars Remote On Space Station

In 1999, MIT engineering Professor David Miller showed Star Wars on the first day of class. During the scene where Luke Skywalker practices his light saber against a seeker remote, Miller stood up and said "I want you to build me some of those."


(Luke practices with seeker remote)

On 18-May-2006 from 10:30am-1:30pm CST Miller's dream (not to mention that of George Lucas and about a zillion Star Wars fans, including me) became at least partly reality. The SPHERES mini-satellite, a tiny (8 inch diameter) remote-controlled device, flew in the International Space Station. SPHERES stands for Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites. Flight Engineer Jeff Williams "piloted" the SPHERES unit in three dimensions for the first time around the pressurized Destiny module.


(Jeff practices with the SPHERES mini-satellite)

According to NASA, the demonstration tested the basics of formation flight and autonomous docking that should be useful in future multiple spacecraft formation flying. The long-range plan for SPHERES is to test flying in formation with a set of mini-satellites.

The first test flight consisted of a series of 10-15 pre-planned maneuvers lasting up to 10 minutes each. Once the appropriate software was loaded on the controlling laptop, the satellite began a set of pre-programmed maneuvers to test attitude control, station keeping, re-targeting, collision avoidance and fuel balancing. The mini-satellite is manuevered using compressed carbon dioxide gas thrusters.

Although the SPHERES mini-satellites are not equipped with blasters or lasers, the SPHERES device is designed to be a testbed for trying out experimental software to control clusters of satellites; it should be easy to add them.


(SPHERES diagram)

The next step in the official testing is to tuck additional SPHERES units onto shuttle flights to test formation flying. The second satellite is scheduled to launch to the station on STS-121 in July 2006. The third will be launched on STS-116.

See our earlier story about testing SPHERES aboard the KC-135 plane that achieves microgravity conditions by extreme flight manuevers - SPHERES - Mini Satellites Fly In Formation. Read NASA releases here and here. Check out the MIT SPHERES project page. Space.com also had a detailed early article. Thanks to alert reader Bryan Teoh for the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/1/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Russian Space Garden
'We saw the gardens, flooded with artificial sunlight...' - Harley S. Aldinger, 1932.

Make Space Tools On The Spot (Like Moties)
'A moment ago it was squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon...' - Niven and Pournelle, 1974.

Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...' - Bruce Sterling, 1985.

SpaceX Spacesuit Design Transmitted By Elon Musk
Welcome, SpaceX, to the club of space suit imaginers and makers.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

effie Automated Ironing Appliance
'Household Automata received an urgent task to develop production units of бытовые тканевые разглаживатели - a household fabric smoother.'

BabyX AI Real Enough For You
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man? I'm showing a voice this instant... I can show a face the same way.'

We Could Downgrade Puerto Rico - And Thereby Save It
'It was cheaper to pay the refugees to go without up-to-the-minute equipment.'

Pegasus, Nvidia Supercomputer For Autonomous Driving
'...a 2045 convertible with a Hennis-Carleton positronic motor and an Armat chassis.'

Loihi Chip Mimics Human Brain's Neurons And Synapses
'You can hook a Thorsen tube into a control circuit... and the tube will "remember" what was done and can direct the operation...'

Self-Assembling Bacteria Build A Pressure Sensor
Nature is a master of fabricating structured materials consisting of living and non-living components.

3D Printed Artificial Muscles Are Stronger Than Yours
Bots don't need to work out.

Fog Computing (AKA Edge Computing) Ad Hoc Networks
'The tiny devices chirped their impulse codes at one another...'

Dubai Scorpion Police Hoverbike Ready To Pull Young Kirk Over
'Is there a problem, officer?'

Korean Tesla Model S Video 'Excelsior' Is Indeed Our Motto
'Improving man by bringing him close to Nature, while they combine the sensations of coasting with the interest of seeing the country well...'

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out."

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.'

A Bayesian Approach to Safe Imitation Learning For AIs and Robots
Um, how about that pension for the humans who serve as the models for robot behavior?

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.'

Autonomous Cars Talk To Each Other At MCity
'My cars talk to one another.'

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.