DARPA prepares robotic arms to start servicing satellites in 2021

DARPA is on track to start a multi-year mission in 2021 to service at least 20 commercial and government spacecraft in geosynchronous orbit (GEO).

Flight versions of two dexterous robotic manipulator arms, which will allow up-close inspection, repair, and installation of technical packages on the exterior of U.S. satellites, are in production and are expected to deliver in 2019. SSL is on track for the systems requirements review for the spacecraft bus in October of 2018. Launch of the RSGS robot servicing vehicle is targeted for 2021.

After DARPA completes an on-orbit checkout and demonstration phase, SSL would operate the vehicle and make cooperative servicing available to both military and commercial geosynchronous orbit satellite owners on a fee-for-service basis. In exchange for providing property to SSL, the government will obtain reduced-priced servicing of its satellites and access to commercial satellite servicing data throughout the operational life of the RSGS spacecraft.