Scale model of Astroscale's Space Debris Removal Satellite ELSA-d on display at the 35th Space Symposium at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 10, 2019. (Keith Johnson/SpaceNews)
Thales Alenia Space graphic
DARPA's  Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program, features a payload developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.  Credit: NRL
e.deorbit ESA
Orbit Fab ISS experiment
Space Drone
SSL satellite servicing concept
Orbit Fab depot
Launched in June 2001, Intelsat-901 is healthy but running low on fuel. MEV 1 aims to fix that. Credit: Intelsat
“DARPA and NASA have done [servicing] demonstrations in the past but to get traction for a sustained business is a big deal.”
— Al Tadros, SSL vice president for
space infrastructure and civil space.
Credit: SSL
An Orbital ATK technician monitors a ground demonstration of MEV docking systems. Credit: Orbital ATK
This NASA Goddard Space Flight Center illustration shows a servicing spacecraft, left, approaching a satellite needing assistance. Credit: NASA Goddard
An Orbital ATK Mission Extension Vehicle docks with a satellite to take over pointing and station keeping. Credit: Orbital ATK
ESA was planning the most ambitious debris removal demonstration: capturing its 8,000-kilogram Envisat environmental-monitoring satellite in 2023 and performing a controlled atmospheric reentry. Now, ESA is exploring synergies between on-orbit servicing and debris removal spacecraft. Credit: ESA
David Barnhart, a former DARPA project manager, is a research professor in the University of Southern California's Department of Astronautical Engineering. He is also director of USC's Space Engineering Research Center, and director of the Space Systems and Technology Division in USC's Information Sciences Institute. Credit: Space Tech Expo
Mission Robotic Vehicle

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