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DARPA Fractionated Spacecraft Program Starts 59

Posted by Zonk
from the better-them-than-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Start buying Cold War nuclear shelters and piling up the canned food, because Boeing Advanced Systems has started System F6: 'DARPA's Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying Spacecraft United by Information Exchange space technology program.' In other words: multiple, networked specialized spacecraft swarms that are intelligent enough to perform a single coordinated task together, like analyzing the crops or deciding to destroy humanity, Skynet-style. Actually, it could completely change satellites for the better, according to some experts."
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DARPA Fractionated Spacecraft Program Starts

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  • by Karrde45 (772180) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:03PM (#22641930)
    I for one, welcome our new free-flying fractionated overlords. Especially if they turn out looking like Summer Glau...
    • Summer Glau, soaring through space, destroying humanity...

      It's an acceptable way to go, that's for sure.
    • by Erioll (229536) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:33PM (#22642382)
      Considering they're in the sky, and they're networked, are they really just TRYING to make it obvious that it's Skynet? I swear humanity could even be TOLD that it's going to become an AI and we'd STILL fund the damned thing. ;)
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by palegray.net (1195047)
        You think this is bad? Just wait till the coming cataclysmic battle between F6 and the Seti@Home [berkeley.edu] distributed computing grid. The horror will be unspeakable.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I kind of miss the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tags..
    • Is fractionated some kind of wierd post tensile enconjurfiverbificationization of fraction? What's wrong with divided? Or distributed may be better.

      While some may think that inventing new words with more syllables makes them sound more intelligent, it just makes them sound really, really stupid.

      Oh yeah, it's US defence... sorry, as you were...

      • by treeves (963993)
        "Fractionated" does have a legitimate use: when you separate compounds by fractional distillation it is common to call the product "fractionated". Using it to describe satellites seems novel though.
  • by southpolesammy (150094) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:04PM (#22641954) Journal
    This product is brought to you by the letter 'F'.
  • by AndGodSed (968378) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:06PM (#22641990) Homepage Journal
    If you ignore the "...Will probably change the face of sattelites for the better, if you ignore that they might decide to wipe out humanity at any given time..."

    Dude, gives a whole new meaning to "the threat of hacking"
    • It's not a press release. It's a word-for-word transcription of technology blog Gizmodo's over-the-top satirical take on the actual technology.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:10PM (#22642036)
    1.) Improved station-keeping to allow greater numbers of satellites to operate safely in space. In particular, multiple satellites could navigate as a group, maintaining their positions relative to each other and therefore occupying only one "slot" in orbit.

    2.) Synthetic apertures. NASA is planning a future mission using station-keeping or physically separated mirros to create an ultra-high resolution telescope. The idea is already used in ground scopes (and the basic principles are used in the F-22's radar). This can also be applied to increasing the resolution of topographic maps and of satellite imagery.
    • I don't know what everyone is so up in arms for. Multiple satellites working towards a common goal is not a new idea. Not even in the slightest. The term is a satellite constellation. GPS is a constellation of multiple satellites. Is that so scary...
    • by Jerry (6400)
      Nah.

      Since the US Military no longer uses shortwave radio a shoot down of our communication & GPS satellites would make us blind and deaf.

      This project reduces the size and increases the number of putative targets the Chinese anti-satellite missiles would have to hit to eliminate our space born communication, tracking and attack systems.
  • This system would be great for locating lost objects. I for one have misplaced my Sarah Connor.
  • by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2 AT anthonymclin DOT com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:15PM (#22642120) Homepage
    Holy shit, do the editors even read the articles anymore?

    The submission is just a blatant ripoff of the gizmodo article it links to, which in turn is incredibly vague and sensationalist without any real content whatsoever.

    If /. isn't playing the digg game, then what the hell are the editors actually doing with their time?
  • Something obviously went wrong ... with /.'s tagging system.
  • not so much a ripoff of gizmodo but this story was already slashed last week: DARPA Funds Development on Modular Satellite Network....
  • Basically a dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Protonk (599901) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:28PM (#22642314) Homepage
    this is, for all intents and purposes, the same article as this [slashdot.org]
  • by omnilynx (961400) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:36PM (#22642416)
    Fantastically fabricated, these fierce forebears of flowing fairy finesse fire forth fast fletchettes, forcing the faithful few to focus their fears: friend or foe? But fah, I forstall. In short, you may call them "F".
  • Oh Noes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:36PM (#22642420)
    *sigh* I'm waiting for the whatcouldpossiblygowrong tag to show up.

    I know it's been said before but it seems like lately there has been a lot of fear mongering going on in the world. I understand when I see it on TV; all the soccer moms of the world need to know the latest threat to their little angels.

    But Slashdot should be better than this. Every time an article comes up that mentions AI, virusses, bacteria, censorship, anything remotely threatening it gets the fear mongering going.

    Here, we have a developement that could save millions of dollars worth of launch costs; yet we fear it because... why exactly? It might spontaneously gain intelligence and attack the human race? Someone might hack it and tell it to attack? Attack using what exactly? I hope that the poster was joking, but honestly, I doubt it.
    • *sigh* I'm waiting for the whatcouldpossiblygowrong tag to show up.

      The "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag is most likely used sarcastically by many slashdotters. I think you may have been desensitized to sarcasm, having watched too much Fox News or something...
      • I would love to be wrong in this case but I'm just not sure. I agree that the tag is often posted humourously, but it is ussually as a dig towards the commenters already expressing that sentiment. Like I said, I would love to be wrong, I'm just not conviced I am.
    • by Joe Tie. (567096)
      I agree 100% with your point, and complain about it fairly often myself. But I have to say that if anything slashdot has improve a million times over from when it first sprang on the web. Memory might be tainting things a bit, but it seemed like back in the day even the most trivial tech trivia was hailed as the end of the world. "Lack of these fonts will kill you and everyone you love!!!" And, come on, remember almost anything by Katz? The only thing there not filled with gloom was how excited he was about
    • But Slashdot should be better than this...AI, virusses, bacteria, censorship, anything remotely threatening it gets the fear mongering going

      /. does not engage in fear mongering...it does not pander to "all the soccer moms of the world" that you mentioned or anyone else. (some dupes here and there, but that's offtopic)

      Here's the difference: the issues of AI, censorship, etc. are real issues that are not well understood by most people and underreported or misunderstood by the media. /. and other media NE

  • by Critical Facilities (850111) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:44PM (#22642518) Homepage
    DARPA's Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying Spacecraft United by Information Exchange space technology program.
  • Have there been a ridiculously large number of Skynet references lately on /.? This must either be,

    1. a result of the new Terminator series on TV or

    2. we really have something to worry about.
    • Nothing to worry about, skynet is just fiction. I mean if it were real there would be no chance in hell humanity could survive that anyways, so sit back and enjoy your doom.
  • Can it find Sarah Connor?
  • Millions of 2lb satellites launched from fixed wing aircraft R probably the way it's going to be done. The satellites could unite to form 1 huge spaceship or become space debris.
  • FTFA:

    In his paper, Molette concluded that even while fractionated spacecraft will have overall higher mass and cost than traditional satellites, these penalties will be outweighed by the advantages of having modules mass-produced and launched into space, which would introduce the same economies of scale and efficiency that PC clusters have over supercomputers.

    FTFWA (from the fucking wiki article):

    Molette's and subsequent analyses[5] concluded that the benefits of fractionated spacecraft were outweighed by their higher mass and cost.

    Who should I trust? Some blogger that writes a sensationalist article that uses a star wars reference and can't be bothered to read his own sources, or a wiki article that lists proper sources? Decisions, decisions ...

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Who should I trust? Some blogger that writes a sensationalist article that uses a star wars reference and can't be bothered to read his own sources, or a wiki article that lists proper sources? Decisions, decisions ...

      It depends ... if Jimbo himself was involved in the edits ... that $325 per bottle champaigne [blogspot.com] he's charged to Wikipedia may have clouded his judgment. like this [valleywag.com], etc [blogspot.com], etc [anorak.co.uk].

  • This program is a shoo in to win the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate [wikipedia.org] award.
  • Remember back in the old days when there was one monster mainframe that served all the users and access to it was tightly controlled? Then we discovered the wonders of having thousands of smaller computers all networked together, giving incredible flexibility and scaling?

    That's what this is for satellites. Instead of having billion-dollar single point failures floating around in space, DARPA is trying to develop the technologies to have constellations of tens, hundreds, thousands of smaller satellites

  • multiple, networked specialized spacecraft swarms that are intelligent enough to perform a single coordinated task together, like analyzing the crops or deciding to destroy humanity, Skynet-style. Actually, it could completely change satellites for the better, according to some experts.

    It's interesting to note the 2-hour season ender for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, focused around thwarting the construction of a network of traffic monitor sensors. It's rare to see science fiction lagging behind

  • Okay, so someone needs to watch Cowboy Bebop Episode 9 (Jamming with Edward) [wikipedia.org] before this thing gets off the ground, lest "[l]aser satellites in Earth orbit begin carving pictures onto the planet's surface, in the style of the Nazca Lines" when the AI gets bored from watching all of us. (Quote from the episode description on Wikipedia.)
    • Where *did* I put that link to buy up an old Titan II missile shelter?

      Dammit, every time I have a computer crash, I lose more than the operating system; I lose a zillion small, fun, interesting, and could-be-useful-if-I-meet-Summer-Glau links.

      I just hate crashes.

      mutter, mutter, mutter.

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