NASA 'nanosats' to form smart network in space

Space agency signs its third official research and development agreement with M2Mi, a software and GPS sensor company, to send tiny satellites into low-Earth orbit.

NASA Ames Research Center said Thursday that it has teamed with M2Mi to develop tiny satellites called nanosats that will go into building new low-Earth orbit telecommunications systems for use in the commercial sector.

"NASA wants to work with companies to develop a new economy in space," Ames Center Director Pete Worden said in a statement.

NASA signed its third official research and development agreement with M2Mi, a software and GPS sensor company that has an office at NASA's Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif. But the space agency has been working with M2Mi for at least the last two years to develop technology that helps machines or robots communicate with each other automatically, or so called machine-to-machine (M2M) intelligence. NASA has previously signed R&D agreements with companies including Google.

Nano-satellites are small satellites that weigh between 11 pounds and 110 pounds. Once built, NASA plans to send them into low-Earth orbit in clusters to create a so-called fifth-generation network, which involves voice over IP, video, and data exchange. "The constellation will provide a robust, global, space-based, high-speed network for communication, data storage, and Earth observations," M2Mi CEO Geoff Brown said in a statement.

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