[Satellite TODAY Insider 07-26-12] ATK has been solicited by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to provide a modified satellite bus to the agency’s Phoenix program, which aims to develop technologies that will cooperatively harvest and re-use valuable components from retired, nonworking GEO satellites, ATK announced July 25.
The manufacturer said it received a solicitation from DARPA’s Phoenix Program system integrator, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), that expressed intent to procure a modified version of an existing U.S.-built, U.S. government-owned geostationary satellite bus for the Phoenix mission.
The ATK bus will be designed to support robotic rendezvous and proximity operations and a grapple-and-repair robotic technology demonstration mission for a minimum of one year. ATK said it would deliver the bus to DARPA and the NRL by October 2014 for space vehicle integration and testing.
ATK also was selected for a contract award in response to a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) from DARPA for the Phoenix Technologies program’s primary robotics effort. ATK will develop robotic servicing tools and software in partnership with the University of Maryland’s Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) that will enable re-use of the antenna and other working components of a nonfunctional satellite. ATK will provide a Satellite Capture Tool (SCT) and an Aperture Grasp and Severing Tool (AGST) for satellite salvaging operations.
ATK Space Systems Division Vice President and General Manager Tom Wilson said his company’s joint venture with U.S. Space, ViviSat, played a role in obtaining the award. ViviSat intends to provide geosynchronous satellite operators with in-orbit mission extension and protection services in order to add to the revenue-producing life of its customers’ satellites.
“Our ViviSat satellite life extension service and RPO Robotics Lab can also serve as a test bed for these tools, in addition to the capabilities provided by our partners at the University of Maryland Space Systems Laboratory,” Wilson said. “We look forward to working with the DARPA and NRL to advance this state of the art technology in robotic servicing via the Phoenix program."
ViviSat’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) was designed to robotically dock with satellites to extend their operational lives by one to 15 years. Wilson added that ATK and U.S. Space are continuing to develop the ViviSat offering, believing it is synergistic with DARPA’s vision with the Phoenix program. “Combined with ATK’s new state of the art Robotic Rendezvous and Proximity Operations Lab, these services provide the tools to leverage DARPA-developed technologies and adapt new capabilities to specific commercial and military customers,” he said.