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 ")

Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.' - Jack Williamson, 1933.

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...' - James Blish, 1957.

 

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

Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'

SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.

RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!

MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.

Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!

Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.

Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'

Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.

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.