darpa ‘predicts’ use of virtual satellites

darpa 'predicts' use of virtual satellitesfrom thought criminal: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is predicting that in the future "virtual satellites" circling the globe will peer down on enemy forces.

Instead of one expensive 10,000-pound spacecraft, the spy camera will float alone, unattached to other components. The onboard processor and communications node, for example, will orbit nearby and the three building blocks in this system will be linked wirelessly.

The System F6 program - future fast, flexible, fractionated, free-flying spacecraft united by information exchange - would allow the Air Force or the National Reconnaissance Office to easily swap out outdated or broken components.

"Flexibility and the technology that enables it is the cornerstone of DARPA's vision of a new space architecture," Owen Brown, a program manager in the agency's virtual space office, said at the DARPA Tech Conference 2007.