DARPA Exploring Use of Robots to Service Space Assets

DARPA is seeking information on the potential development of a robotic servicing capability for the current space infrastructure in geostationary Earth orbit. The technology is intended to assist with inspection of functional spacecraft that may have experienced abnormalities with solar array and antenna deployment. It also could assist with orbit change maneuvers, such as relocating to a new station or transferring orbits, correcting propulsion system and propellant shortcomings, according to the request for information. Specifically, the agency says it is seeking information in two veins: “the technical characteristics of spacecraft buses that industry might supply for integration with the DARPA-developed space robotics technologies and the business arrangements that potential industry partners and users would require or prefer in order to enter into a partnership agreement with the government to enable a commercially owned and operated space robotic servicing capability.” Responses are due Nov. 3. The project’s tentative launch date is 2019.