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Intl Space Station Deploys 2 NASA CubeSats for Swarm Comms Demonstration

CubeSatThe International Space Station launched a pair of small NASA satellites Monday using a NanoRacks-built deployer system as part of an agency project that aims to demonstrate operation and networking of CubeSats in low-Earth orbit.

NASA said Wednesday each Node satellite employs the Android mobile operating system and is built with customized software and the Energetic Particle Integrating Space Environment Monitor technology designed to collect and transmit data.

Montana State University developed the Nodes’ EPISEM radiation sensors for the agency.

“The purpose of the Nodes demonstration is to test out the potential for using a network of small, low-cost satellites to perform complex science missions,” said Andrew Petro, program executive for NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program.

“If we can demonstrate that any single satellite can ‘talk’ to the ground on behalf of a whole network of satellites, that’s a great tool for creating new, more affordable space mission concepts,” Petro added.

The Nodes were included in Orbital ATK‘s fourth cargo resupply mission to the space station in December.

The agency designed the satellites to autonomously identify which of them is best suited to manage the space data network and transmit data to the ground during the mission.

Ground controllers found both Nodes are in good condition and communicate when the satellites passed over a tracking station soon after they launched from the ISS, according to the agency.

NASA expects to start receiving scientific data from the CubeSats on Wednesday.

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