At a consistent $12,000 to $22,000 per kilogram, it’s not getting any cheaper to send satellites into space, so researchers are trying to figure out how to make them lighter. One extreme solution: hockey-puck-sized satellites. At defense research center Aerospace in El Segundo, CA, engineers are creating early prototypes in which propellant tanks, thruster nozzles, and other key components are laser-carved from a special type of glass. Other necessities such as metal valves, tiny microelectromechanical gyroscopes, guidance electronics, cameras, and other sensors are bonded to the structure. Led by aerospace scientists Siegfried Janson and Henry Halvajian, the team is testing the devices’ maneuverability on a platform similar to an air-hockey table; if the tests go well, the small satellites could ride into space on the sides of other, larger satellites within four years. Once in space, they would be deployed as needed to send back pictures of their host satellites’ condition. Eventually, Janson says, fleets of these satellites could replace some of today’s hefty sensing and communications satellites.
DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.
“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.
What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines
New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.
Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats
With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure
Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation
From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.