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DARPA Issues RFI for Robotic In-Orbit Servicing

By Caleb Henry | September 4, 2014
      DARPA Phoenix artist rendition

      DARPA Phoenix artist rendition. Image Credit: DARPA

      [Via Satellite 09-04-2014] The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Tactical Technology Office (TTO) has published a request for information (RFI) for robotic satellite servicing missions in or near Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO). Based on the RFI, DARPA is seeking to learn the technical characteristics of spacecraft buses that commercial providers can provide to integrate with DARPA’s own robotic technology, and to determine potential business agreements where a commercially owned and operated in-orbit service would be established.

      “Bringing this servicer into operation will create a satellite fleet servicing capability rather than the isolated, unserviced satellites of today” the agency said in a statement.

      DARPA is also interested in gaining information from satellite life extension projects such as refueling. The new RFI builds on the progress made through the Phoenix program, with a potential flight mission of a “GEO robotic servicer” within the next five years.