The space agency says of its smartphone-enabled twins: "Orbiting about 250 miles above Earth, Nodes will demonstrate the ability to receive and distribute commands in space from the ground, while periodically exchanging scientific data from their onboard radiation instruments, a first for small satellites.

Comms are provided by "one S-band radio for ground communication, one ultra high frequency UHF radio for crosslink communication, and an additional UHF beacon radio that transmits state-of-health information", according to the mission outline PDF .

Roger Hunter, program manager for NASA's Small Spacecraft Technology Program SSTP , which funds Nodes, said: "The technologies demonstrated during this mission are important, as they will show that a network of satellites can be controlled without communicating to each satellite directly.

"Nodes will demonstrate inter-satellite communications and autonomous command and control; this will help enable future constellation command and control capabilities."

Bootnotes

*Here are the two Nodes CubeSats packed into a NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer with at left the St Thomas More Cathedral School STMSat-1.

Pic: NASA

**The EDSN's eight CubeSat cluster was destroyed in November last year due to the failure of the Super Strypi lifter, shortly after lift-off from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

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