Jul 21, 2016

DARPA Increases SSL Funding for Robotic Satellite Servicing Technology

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, satellites

Nice and a big deal.

[Via Satellite 07-21-2016] Space Systems Loral (SSL) has received $20.7 million from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design and build robotic arm flight hardware for the first phase of the agency’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program. SSL is receiving the funds through MDA US Systems, a division of MDA that SSL manages, and is working with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which is the prime contractor managing the program.

The contract calls for two complete robotic arm systems capable of capturing and berthing with satellites that were not previously designed for docking. The robotic arms would each have multiple joints enabling dexterous movement, with the ability to carry and use multiple generic and mission-specific tools. Building on contracts SSL received in both 2012 and 2013 for prior DARPA research into space robotics, the total contract value awarded now stands at more than $40 million. The contract could grow further if all remaining options are exercised.

The goal of the RSGS program is to cooperatively inspect, capture, reposition, repair, and upgrade geosynchronous spacecraft. DARPA plans to take the hardware and software developed through RSGS and integrate it into a commercially owned and operated servicing vehicle to provide on-demand servicing in space.

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