Communication is crucial in everything from relationships, to work, to military operations. That’s why the United States Army is currently testing out nanosatellites that will allow American troops to use their radios to communicate regardless of where they are. Ideally the Army would like to have a dozen of these miniature satellites in orbit, but getting just one into space could prove very difficult.
Tiny Army satellites may someday provide Soldiers with voice, data and even visual communications in remote areas, which lack such communications. Already some of that technology has been successfully tested, said Dr. Travis Taylor. Taylor is the senior scientist for Space Division, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command — Tech Center, or SMDC, at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He spoke during Lab Day at the Pentagon, May 14, 2015. In many remote areas where Soldiers operate today, Army radio over-the-horizon communication from the field to higher headquarters like the brigade is nonexistent, Taylor said. To address this gap in coverage, Army scientists and researchers built the SMDC-ONE nanosatellite, he said, the ONE standing for Orbital Nanosatellite Effect. “It’s basically a cellphone tower in space, except it’s not for cellphones, it’s for Army radios,” Taylor said. SMDC-ONE is currently a technology demonstration, he said, adding that one has been successfully tested. It’s up in space right now communicating. Three more are scheduled to go up this year and an undetermined number will go up next year as well.