sstl kinect satellite Satellites to employ Kinect to dock in space

Microsoft's motion-tracking camera and software is extending further beyond its initial gaming audience, with UK engineers planning to dock a satellite pair by using the Kinect.

Microsoft's motion-tracking camera and software is extending further beyond its initial gaming audience, with UK engineers planning to dock a satellite pair by using the Kinect.

 
Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is developing the STRaND-2 satellites that will take advantage of the Kinect's ability to provide spatial awareness in order to split and dock the pair while in orbit.
 
Shaun Kenyon, Project Lead at SSTL, said that the company was impressed by a previous project by MIT that used the Kinect to fly an autonomous model helicopter, leading to SSTL's consideration of the technology for space missions.
 
 
SSTL has not been afraid to use modern consumer technology in the past. The STRaND-1 satellite, the predecessor to the Kinect-enabled model, employs an Android-powered smartphone to achieve its goals, making use of the device's microphone, camera, and other features, as well as a number of apps, including Postcards from Space. The company will launch these satellites some time before the end of the year, while the STRaND-2 satellites likely won't leave the planet until next year or later.
 
This move is just one of a number of big advances in space technology in recent months, with the most notable being the SpaceX shuttle mission to the International Space Station, which opens the vastness of space to private companies. 
 
SSTL believes its own contribution of low-cost docking satellites could open up further possibilities, such as spacecraft maintenance, space debris cleanup, and “space building blocks,” a potential new way to build stations and other facilities in space.
 
"It may seem far-fetched, but our low cost nanosatellites could dock to build large and sophisticated modular structures such as space telescopes," said Dr. Chris Bridges, Project Lead of the Surrey Space Centre. "Unlike today's big space missions, these could be reconfigured as mission objectives change, and upgraded in-orbit with the latest available technologies."