Breakthrough Starshot puts smallest satellites ever into orbit

Breakthrough Starshot, the privately funded $100 million effort to launch a probe to the nearest star, has put into orbit the world’s smallest satellites ever.

The six prototypes, dubbed Sprites, weigh only 4 grams and contain solar panels, computers, sensors, and radios on a surface equal to that of a U.S. postage stamp. Developed by researchers at Cornell University and transported into space as secondary payloads on a rocket built by the Europe-based company OHB System AG, the nanosatellites are being tested for electronics and communication performance in orbit.

The significance here is not so much that this advances the project’s interstellar mission, but that this technology is becoming more likely for use on both commercial and planetary spacecraft.