These little Star Wars-inspired orbs are being tested on the International Space Station to see whether their technology is suitable to be used in a new generation of "smart" satellites. The nine pound spheres use carbon dioxide expelled from their thrusters to maneuver around the ISS. These satellites will be cheap and can fly in formation, so they can be thrown up into space by the shuttle-load.
"I rented the first 'Star Wars' movie and showed the class the scene where Luke is practicing the use of the Force with a floating droid," he explains. "I said: 'I want three of those. How do we start doing this?' "
The "drones" interact using radio and can move together in packs, much like the chess club to the Episode III premiere. These satellites goes to show that nerdy Star Wars kids grow up to be nerdy Star Wars adults that work for NASA—or Gadget blogs.
On space station, droids get a workout [Christian Science Monitor]