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Gordon Roesler: DARPA-Industry Robotics Partnership Aims to Bolster Space Infrastructure

satelliteThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is planning to establish partnerships with the private sector to bring DARPA-developed robotic servicing technology for satellites on geostationary Earth orbit to both the military and commercial markets.

The agency said Wednesday it is issuing a request for information from industry on the business, technical and security factors in establishing a space robotics enterprise that is commercially owned and operated.

“If we’re successful, we will significantly accelerate development of a capacity to maximize the utility of current space infrastructure and enhance the capabilities of future systems,” said Gordon Roesler, a program manager at DARPA.

Space robotics capabilities are expected to help lessen costs for the manufacture, deployment and operations of GEO satellites and increase their lifespan, the agency stated.

The RFI targets input on technical satellite-servicing capabilities for spacecraft inspection, fixing mechanical problems and orbit change maneuvering, as well as commercial business practices for a satellite servicing enterprise that would support U.S. national and economic interests.

DARPA said it is also looking for early-opportunity partnerships on technology demonstration, maturation and testing, with a flight demonstration planned within the next five years.

Respondents to the RFI are required to indicate their experience in spacecraft development and operations, on-orbit satellite servicing, robotics technology and satellite fleet management.

The agency said it will accept responses until Nov. 3.

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