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Space Science

Evaluating the Capabilities of Chip-Sized Spacecraft 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the remember-when-we-had-people-sized-spacecraft dept.
kgeiger writes "The Sprite project is testing the feasibility of chip-sized spacecraft. 'Rather than hand building one-of-a-kind spacecraft, we envision constructing spacecraft on wafers in much the same way that common integrated circuits are made today. During fabrication, solar cells and other components would be incorporated with microelectromechanical systems techniques. Instead of exhaustively testing each part, as is done with current spacecraft, engineers will be able to monitor Sprite quality in a less labor-intensive fashion by using statistical process control, testing a few chips from each batch to make sure they meet specifications.' The project's goal is to deploy true 'smart dust,' comprised of 5- to 50-mg single-sensor spacecraft capable of forming deep-space sensor arrays."
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Evaluating the Capabilities of Chip-Sized Spacecraft

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  • Propulsion? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrxak (727974) on Friday July 29, 2011 @01:42PM (#36924116)

    Much of the weight and size in spacecraft is not the instruments, it's the fuel and engine. I get that you need a lot less of both if you've got a small mass, but still, how are you going to move the thing around?

    TFA says they'll need some crazy new propulsion system, so yeah, we won't be seeing chip ships any time soon, probably.

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