An alumnus of the class of 1985 writes, "The Synchronized Position Hold Engage Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) flight experiment was developed by the MIT Space Systems Laboratory and is currently in operation on the International Space Station (ISS). SPHERES are small free-flying satellites that operate inside the pressurized volume of the ISS to conduct research on formation flying algorithms, rendezvous and docking, and constellation spacecraft control. SPHERES began as an undergraduate design course and has evolved into a full spaceflight system by a team of students, staff, faculty, and industry partners. The SPHERES have been aboard the ISS since 2004 and have been operated by numerous astronauts, including several MIT grads.
"SPHERES represents the best of MIT -- students, staff, faculty, and research partners working together to create a useful system. SPHERES is also representative of numerous spaceflight payloads that have been developed in the Aero Astro department and flown on the Space Shuttle, Mir Space Station, and International Space Station -- including MACE, MODE, and EDLS.
"The image shows MIT alums Michael Finke '89 and Gregory Chamitoff PhD '92 (along with space tourist Richard Garriott) and the SPHERES system on the ISS."