‘In orbit’ satellite servicing gets closer

Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) says it has signed an agreement with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop advanced capabilities for servicing and maintaining spacecraft in geostationary orbit. Details of the partnership were initially released back in February, but the full details are now being made public.

The concept is to build and launch a satellite capable of servicing existing orbiting satellites. SS/L, although US-based is backed by Canada’s MDA Communications, which developed the ‘Canadarm’ robotic and remote controlled arm that was used on the various Space Shuttle missions, and a more recent variant (Canadarm-2) in use on the International Space Station.

“SSL is looking ahead to help satellite operators and government agencies address the demand for cost efficiency paired with next generation technology,” said Howard Lance, CEO, SSL/MDA Holdings. “Now SSL is working with both NASA and DARPA on their programmes which develop a range of cooperative in-orbit satellite servicing capabilities that will shape future space architectures and provide flexibility for how both commercial and government satellite operators manage their fleets.”

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