Thursday, June 21, 2012

Building Satellites With Video Game Technology

AMSAT-UK is part of a group planning to build a set of cubesats that will test an autonomous on-orbit docking system based on XBOX Kinect video game technology. The group also includes and Surrey Satellite Technology, Ltd., and is based at the University of Surrey in England, home of the UOSAT amateur satellites of the 1970s and '80s. AMSAT News Service reports that the project - named STRaND-2 - will consist of two twin satellites that will be separated after launch. After each one is checked out, ground controllers will command them to dock with each other. They will then use components from a Kinect game controller scan the area around them and provide the satellites with 3-D spatial awareness to align with each other and dock. If successful, it could open a whole new way of building and maintaining satellites, including the potential for changing out modules in orbit or using multiple small cubesats to link up in orbit and build a large satellite by themselves.