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NASA, through the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, carries out the Space Technology 5 (ST5) project of the New Millennium Program (NMP). This ST5 project includes the construction of three miniaturized satellites. These small satellites, called nanosatellites or "small-sats," can perform some of the usual functions of a normal satellite.
The differences are obvious. In addition to its reduced weight, the manufacturing cost is much lower. This is the case of the Spanish artificial satellite Nanosat-1B. It has been developed by the National Institute of Aerospace Technology INTA, and is a nanosatellite of just 22 kilograms in weight. Its main function is communication between remote bases, such as Antarctica, the Hesperides ship and Spain.
Another excellent example is the research carried out by Mexican engineer Álvar Saez-Otero at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Álvar is director of the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and his studies focus on the design and implementation of a small space device, the Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellite (SPHERES).
SPHERES are small practically spherical satellites. They measure approximately 20 centimeters in diameter. Its cost is $ 200,000, a really affordable price compared to the millions of dollars it represents building traditional satellites. Today there are already three SPHERES on board the International Space Station.
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