DARPA to build satellite repair robot

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DARPA has started a new project to develop a robot satellite designed to refuel and repair satellites.

I wonder if this is linked to the satellite refueling demo that has been doing simulations of exactly this kind of repair work on ISS for the past five years.


  • Local Fluff

    Satellites need to be standardized to be repaired. The Air Force is probably large enough to create their own standards, hopefully to be followed by others. But then there’s the problem with orbits. Spy satellites use low orbits with high inclinations. It is expensive to move between such orbits. GPS satellites are also out of the market because they have very different inclinations. The market is in geostationary orbit and private companies. A third problem is that the economic lifetime of a satellite might be much shorter than its technical lifetime. It will often be more profitable to launch a new satellite with the latest technology and higher capacity, than to repair or refuel an old one. It is so much cheaper and less risky to launch the extra fuel together with the satellite to begin with, than equipping it for refueling and then launching extra fuel separately and docking and so many things could go wrong.

  • Local Fluff

    Pushing failed satellites into a graveyard orbit should be an attractive purpose for an Solar electric ion propelled towing satellite in GEO. Given that there are some “property” laws which require satellites to clear the area when they malfunction or within a certain maximum time or to make place for the highest bidder or however.

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