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DARPA reviews satellite servicing robot design

22nd August 2018 - 13:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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DARPA has concluded the preliminary design review of a satellite servicing payload for its Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) programme.

According to DARPA, results of the assessment showed that the RSGS payload – coupled with a spacecraft bus that Space Systems Loral (SSL) is providing through a partnership agreement – could operate for several years at a time and repair at least 20 commercial and government spacecraft in orbit.

The US Navy‘s Naval Research Laboratory, which constructed the RSGS system, provided interface control documents and validation plans for the design review process.

Flight versions of two dexterous robotic manipulator arms, which will enable up-close inspection, repair, and installation of technical packages on the exterior of US satellites, are in production and are expected to deliver in 2019.

SSL is on track for the systems requirements review for the spacecraft bus in October of 2018. Launch of the RSGS robot servicing vehicle is targeted for 2021.

The plan is that after DARPA completes an on-orbit checkout and demonstration phase, SSL would operate the vehicle and make cooperative servicing available to both military and commercial geosynchronous orbit satellite owners on a fee-for-service basis. In exchange for providing property to SSL, the government will obtain reduced-priced servicing of its satellites and access to commercial satellite servicing data throughout the operational life of the RSGS spacecraft.

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