Mar 232006
 

ST5 Micro-satelliteJust after six yesterday morning a Pegasus rocket launched from the belly of a Lockheed L-1011 jet flying 7 miles above the Earth carried a historic payload into space. On board the rocket were three ST5 micro-satellites destined to study the Earth’s magnetic fields from their extraterrestrial orbits. Built as part of NASA’s New Millennium Program, which was created to speed up space exploration through the development cutting-edge technologies, the 55 pound ST5s utilize a tiny antenna that was designed by dozens of computers running a “survival of the fittest” evolutionary algorithm in parallel to determine its optimal shape and size. The successful deployment is the first time an AI-designed system has been put into operation in space.

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Feb 232006
 

ST5 Satellite Antenna

BoingBoing.com is reporting that NASA will make history next month when it launches three Space Technology (ST5) satellites into orbit on board a Pegasus XL rocket. It is not the launch itself that is noteworthy, but rather a relatively small, but very important component of the satellites: their antennas. Not much bigger than a quarter and looking a lot like a randomly bent paper clip, the ST5’s antenna are actually the result of 80 computers running a “survival of the fittest” evolutionary algorithm in parallel to calculate the most efficient design for the space antenna. The March launch will mark the first time that a device designed by AI will have flown and be put into operation in space.

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Dec 082005
 

NASA logo

As part of their Centennial Challenge program to “stimulate innovation and competition in solar system exploration,” NASA has announced two new contests for private developers of space robotic vehicles. The Planetary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Challenge involves building a craft that can fly autonomously and navigate using only optical navigation technologies. The Telerobotic Construction Challenge is to develop remote-controlled robots able to assemble a structure from individual building blocks strewn across an arena. The prize for each contest is $250,000.

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