NASA awards contract for satellite refueling mission

NASA has awarded Space Systems/Loral a contract for building Restore-L, a robot refueling mission designed by the Goddard Space Flight Center team that ran the Hubble shuttle repair missions as well as the recent robotic demo repair tests on ISS.

The brains behind this mission is 80-year-old Frank Cepollina, who headed those Hubble shuttle missions and has been pushing for satellite repair since the 1980s. He is still going strong. As he said to me during one of my interviews for several articles I have written about him, “One of the things that’s driven me is this concept of stretching your capital assets for as long as you can to get every dollar of return you can possible get from it. The American taxpayers have paid for those assets. We should use them.”

If only we had more such Americans working in the federal government.

NASA approves robot satellite refueling mission

The competition heats up: NASA has approved plans to launch Restore-L, a robot mission in 2020 to refuel a satellite.

In May, NASA officially moved forward with plans to execute the ambitious, technology-rich Restore-L mission, an endeavor to launch a robotic spacecraft in 2020 to refuel a live satellite. The mission – the first of its kind in low-Earth orbit – will demonstrate that a carefully curated suite of satellite-servicing technologies are fully operational. The current candidate client for this venture is Landsat 7, a government-owned satellite in low-Earth orbit.

This mission is being spear-headed by the division at the Goddard Space Flight Center that ran the repair missions to the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as the recent robotic refueling demonstrations on ISS. With the success of those demonstrations, NASA has obviously decided to move forward with an actual flight.