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Northrop Grumman Partners with DARPA for Robotic Servicing Mission

By | March 4, 2020

The Mission Robotic Vehicle, shown with DARPA’s RSGS Robotic Payload. Photo: Northrop Grumman

SpaceLogistics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corporation has been selected by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as its commercial partner for the agency’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program. Northrop Grumman said the mission will feature the first-ever commercial robotic servicing spacecraft. It aims to expand the market for satellite servicing of both commercial and government client satellites with advanced robotics technology. Program objectives include in-orbit repair, augmentation, assembly, detailed inspection, and relocation of client satellites.

DARPA will provide the robotics payload for the SpaceLogistics Mission Robotic Vehicle, which will be developed and integrated by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and consist of two dexterous robotic manipulator arms, along with several tools and sensors. SpaceLogistics will provide its Mission Robotic Vehicle bus leveraging technologies developed for the industry’s first- ever satellite servicing vehicle, the Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV). MEV-1, designed and built by Northrop Grumman, completed the first docking in geosynchronous orbit with an Intelsat satellite on Feb. 25.

“Our selection as DARPA’s commercial partner expands our leadership in space logistics,” said Tom Wilson, SpaceLogistics president. “The new robotics technology on this mission advances our vision to build a fleet of satellite servicing vehicles that provide customers with a variety of options to select the type of life-extension or in-orbit repairs they need.”