Invent Baltics, an Estonian technology consultancy, and the Tartu Observatory will be partners in an EU study looking at the role of nanosatellites in the future of the space industry.
The two-year project is receiving 500,000 euros in funding from the European Commission, and other partners are Aalborg University in Denmark, Germany's OHB and Sweden's Nanospace AB.
"The space robots we've seen in sci-fi films may no longer be in the distant future," a press release from Invent Baltics and the Tartu Observatory said.
"The development of innovative technologies for autonomous few-kilogram spaceships such as these has reached the status of a new global space race [...] A network of laptop-sized nanosatellites in Earth's orbit may in the future both replace the current extremely expensive large satellites as well as create entirely new application possibilities," the press release said.
Estonia university students, who recently finished building the country's first satellite, ESTCube-1, will participate in the research.