Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who tracks the world's space launches and satellites, called it "an interesting idea" that may reduce costs in the long-term.
"The first few times you do this, it'll definitely be more expensive than just building the new antenna on your satellite from scratch. But in the long run, it might work out," he said in an email.
McDowell said the biggest challenge in the upcoming demo test is separating the antenna from the retired satellite without breaking it and then successfully integrating it with the mini-satellites.
DARPA is used to funding blue-sky research and a few projects are slowly becoming reality.In 2011, it dangled seed money to jumpstart a way to rocket people to a star within a century in what's known as the 100-year Starship program. Long before Google tested self-driving cars, DARPA sponsored a robotic road race in which university-designed autonomous vehicles eyed for the finish line without human help. ___ Follow Alicia Chang at http://twitter.com/SciWriAlicia