SS/L Selected for DARPA Phoenix Program Satlet Study

[Satellite TODAY 07-30-12] Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to analyze and define aspects of its Phoenix program that are focused on repurposing non-working GEO satellites, SS/L announced July 27.

   SS/L said that in order to repurpose valuable components such as antennas, the Phoenix will attach small satellites, or “satlets,” onto non-working spacecraft to take control of their components and give them new operational life. SS/L will study how to carry these satlets to orbit by giving them a ride on large commercial GEO satellites.
   SS/L Project Manager Gerrit van Ommering said his company’s vision for this solution is for satlets to be packaged in multiples in a payload orbital delivery system (PODS). “After one of the PODS is dispensed, it will be met by a robotic vehicle designed to retrieve the satlets and attach them to the repurposed components,” van Ommering said in a statement. “Ridesharing on large commercial spacecraft is an ideal way to bring the Phoenix satlets to GEO at major savings, compared to dedicated launches. The results of our studies will provide the needed specifics on the most effective ways to accomplish that.”
   The DARPA Phoenix program plans to demonstrate this capability in space between 2015 and 2016.

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