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Nanosatellites equipped with Kinect could join together like space LEGO

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Researchers are developing a new kind of satellite that utilizes Kinect for spatial awareness, potentially allowing them to join together in space.

Strand Nanosatellite
Strand Nanosatellite

Researchers at the University of Surrey are preparing for a new mission that could see tiny satellites dock together in space with the help of Microsoft Kinect sensors. Called STRaND-2 (Surrey Training, Research, and Nanosatellite Demonstrator), the mission consists of two nanosatellites that measure just 30 centimeters across and are equipped with Kinect technology, which makes them aware of their surroundings. The plan is to use this ability to join the satellites together once in orbit — sort of like big pieces of LEGO.

The team describes them as "space building blocks" that could be used to build larger crafts in space, which could also be reconfigured depending on the situation. Eventually the satellites could be used to do anything from providing a backup power source to adding extra propulsion to a craft. "Once you can launch low cost nanosatellites that dock together, the possibilities are endless," explained project lead Dr. Chris Bridges. Unfortunately, there's no word yet on when the mission is expected to take place, so it'll likely be quite some time before we see any Voltron-style spaceships.