NASA has kicked off development work on a robotic spacecraft the space agency plans to launch in 2020 to refuel a live satellite in low-Earth orbit.
The Restore-L mission is intended to demonstrate the feasibility of satellite-servicing technologies and the government-owned satellite Landsat 7 is one candidate client for the refueling mission, NASA said Friday.
Restore-L also aims to test other crosscutting technologies NASA could use for its critical missions in the future and applications such as on-orbit manufacturing and assembly, propellant depots, observatory servicing and orbital debris management.
The satellite will also be built with an autonomous relative navigation system with auxiliary avionics, robotic arms and software.
“Restore-L effectively breaks the paradigm of one-and-done spacecraft,” said Frank Cepollina, veteran leader of the five crewed servicing missions to the Hubble Space Telescope.
“It introduces new ways to robotically manage, upgrade and prolong the lifespans of our costly orbiting national assets,” added Cepollina.