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NASA Plans 'Nano' Satellites To Help Commercialize Space

NASA Ames Research Center plans to work with M2mi Corp. to develop small satellites to power telecommunications and networks in space. The plan to build "nanosats" will help with the commercialization of space, NASA said.

"NASA wants to work with companies to develop a new economy in space," NASA Ames Center director S. Pete Worden said in a news announcement Thursday. "M2mi has great technology that fits excellently with our goals, while enhancing the commercial use of NASA-developed technologies."

The company will work under a cooperative research and development plan, which NASA said is the third such agreement in its history. It will build satellites that weigh between 11 and 110 pounds and create a constellation in low Earth orbit.

"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. "Nanosatellites take advantage of the significant technological advances in microelectronics and will be produced using low-cost, mass-production techniques."

The telecommunications and networking system for IP-based services is being developed as a fifth-generation system that allows voice over IP, video, data, and wireless transmissions.

NASA will lend its expertise in nanosensors, wireless networks, and nanosatellite technologies, while M2mi will apply its abilities in software technology, sensors, global system awareness, adaptive control, and commercialization.

"This initiative shows great promise in revolutionizing mobile communications critical in meeting future needs," Badri Younes, NASA's deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation, said in a statement.