Small satellites and autonomous vehicles have greatly evolved in the last few decades. Hundreds of small satellites have been launched with increasing functionalities, in the last few years. Likewise, numerous autonomous vehicles have been built, with decreasing costs and form-factor payloads. Here we focus on combining these two multifaceted assets in an incremental way, with an ultimate goal of alleviating the logistical expenses in remote oceanographic operations. The first goal is to create a highly reliable and constantly available communication link for a network of autonomous vehicles, taking advantage of the small satellite lower cost, with respect to conventional spacecraft, and its higher flexibility. We have developed a test platform as a proving ground for this network, by integrating a satellite software defined radio on an unmanned air vehicle, creating a system of systems, and several tests have been run successfully, over land. As soon as the satellite is fully operational, we will start to move towards a cooperative network of autonomous vehicles and small satellites, with application in maritime operations, both in-situ and remote sensing.
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