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Missile Defense Agency Begins Experiment on Small Satellites

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Two CubeSat small satellites operated by the Missile Defense Agency linked with ground stations as part of a communications experiment.

MDA said Monday its CubeSat Networked Communications Experiment aims to demonstrate how nanosatellites can establish radio communications in orbit. CNCE is part of MDA's larger Nanosat Testbed Initiative.

The agency believes this communications approach has the potential to significantly augment missile defense technology.

CNCE's first block will demonstrate communications for software-defined radios, ad hoc networks and situations where antennas aren't optimally positioned. The effort will also test how small satellites can exhibit formation flying.

VOX Space, a Virgin Orbit subsidiary, launched the pair of CubeSats on a LauncherOne rocket through the Department of Defense's Space Test Program, which offers ridesharing arrangements.