This marks another step by NASA Ames to explore the potential of microspacecraft and cooperative multi-spacecraft networks. I'll just reprint the NASA release in full here. There's an obvious synergy with DARPA and the Air Force and their fractionated spacecraft (F6) work I blogged on earlier.
RELEASE : 08-107
NASA Ames Partners With M2MI For Small Satellite Development
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and m2mi Corp., Moffett Field, Calif., announced Thursday they are taking a revolutionary step forward in improving telecommunications and networking from space.
Under the terms of a cooperative research and development agreement, only the third in NASA's history, NASA Ames and m2mi will work together to develop very small satellites, called nanosats, for the commercialization of space.
"NASA wants to work with companies to develop a new economy in space," said NASA Ames Center Director S. Pete Worden. "m2mi has great technology that fits excellently with our goals, while enhancing the commercial use of NASA-developed technologies."
Nanosatellites are small satellites weighing between 11 and 110 pounds. A large number of these satellites, called a constellation, will be placed in low Earth orbit for the new telecommunications and networking system.
"The constellation will provide a robust, global, space-based, high-speed network for communication, data storage and Earth observations," said m2mi Chief Executive Officer Geoff Brown. "Nanosatellites take advantage of the significant technological advances in microelectronics and will be produced using low-cost, mass-production techniques."
Under the agreement, NASA and m2mi will cooperate to develop a fifth generation telecommunications and networking system for Internet protocol-based and related services. The cooperative effort will combine NASA's expertise in nanosensors, wireless networks and nanosatellite technologies with m2mi's unique capabilities in software technology, sensors, global system awareness, adaptive control and commercialization capabilities. Fifth Generation, or 5G, incorporates Voice Over Internet Protocol, video, data, wireless, and an integrated machine-to-machine intelligence layer, or m2mi, for seamless information exchange and use.
"This initiative shows great promise in revolutionizing mobile communications critical in meeting future needs," said Badri Younes, NASA deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation. "This project also will leverage m2mi's capabilities in software expertise to automate global system awareness and provide intelligent adaptive control."