What is Next for Robotic Satellite Servicing Tech
Orbital tests are the next level for robotic satellite services. According to experts; technologies that would service and refuel satellites in orbit are finally ready to move forward. It was one of the most important topics at The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Space conference. After all of the technical, regulatory and financial challenges experts and opinion leaders said the process is going to be faster than before for satellites.
Paradigm changes for satellite servicing
For instance, according to senior vice president of strategic business development at SSL, Steve Oldham: “My assertion is, we’re over the hump on all of these challenges, but that doesn’t mean we have a satellite servicing paradigm and infrastructure available today… I anticipate that those missing elements are coming soon and that, when they arrive, there’s going to be a “paradigm change”… Some of the technology for satellite-servicing missions has been tested already on the ground and in space. A series of government and private missions over the next five years will fully demonstrate these technologies in orbit.“
Currently, satellites are abandoned in orbit when they suffer a mechanical failure or run out of fuel. Using vehicles that service satellites in orbit would add years of life to those spacecraft by refueling, repairing, upgrading and relocating them.
In addition to those, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), US is in the midst of selecting a contractor for its own satellite-servicing spacecraft which is scheduled to launch in fiscal year 2021.