SPHERES Satellites on the International Space Station

Experimental testbed for formation-flying algorithms.

SPHERES is a flight project currently operating onboard the International Space Station (ISS), built to test formation-flying and docking algorithms for future space telescope arrays. The testbed allows developers to test algorithms in the security of the space station environment.

Over the five-year production lifetime of the project, efforts were focused on designing, building and testing the SPHERES experiment hardware, as well as drawing up experiment procedures, designing a Graphical User Interface, and then training astronauts how to operate the experiment.

The hardware went through several prototype iterations and test flights aboard the NASA KC-135.

SPHERES was launched to the Space Station in 2005 and is still operating onboard the ISS.

(Photos and video courtesy of NASA)