A new “national initiative” wants to promote the development of satellite servicing and in-space assembly technologies among U.S. government agencies that have differing views on the value of such capabilities.
With the success of its first life extension vehicle and a new DARPA award, Northrop Grumman is cautiously optimistic that demand for satellite servicing will grow.
Under the agreement, DARPA will provide the robotics payload for a Mission Robotic Vehicle.
With the first commercial satellite servicing spacecraft about to launch, industry executives argue that government agencies, primarily seen as developers of key servicing technologies, also need to be customers of those systems.
DARPA program manager Joe Parrish: 'There are new players interested in partnering'
Speaking at the 35th Space Symposium here April 8, John Lymer, Maxar’s chief roboticist, said the company is committed to finishing Dragonfly, a NASA program to assemble spacecraft parts in orbit, enabling antennas and other systems to launch more compactly inside a rocket’s payload fairing.
Nearly two months after Maxar dropped out of a DARPA program to demonstrate satellite servicing, the agency is continuing to develop the servicing technology as it examines options to get it into space.
Maxar's exit has a silver lining: DARPA can and should repurpose the RSGS program to defined U.S. military satellites against attacks from supposedly peaceful Chinese and Russian robotic spacecraft.
The need to use these spacecraft also as bodyguards is the strongest reason to rescind the Senate's proposed budget cut for launching our first robotic servicing spacecraft. Any delay in its launch would greatly increase the chance of a space Pearl Harbor.
Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin comes to the defense of DARPA's contested satellite-servicing partnership with Space Systems Loral.