DARPA and the On Orbit Servicing Game

DARPA’s robot could start servicing satellites in 2025 – by Sandra Erwin

This week in space news brings good news from DARPA, as reported in spacenews.com. The robot arm that DARPA has been developing has completed major milestone tests. The program started in 2017, and has just completed environmental testing (EMI and thermal). For those outside the space community these are the last big milestone tests. This Arm can be integrated into a Northrop Grumman space craft and launched into geosynchronous orbit in 2024, and be in service in 2025.

It’s interesting to see a government agency also developing an on orbit servvicing capability. Previously we had talked about commercial, and how commercial needs to be held to a high standard in order to service high valued assts. But, DARPA has its own strict security rules that could be integrated with other agencies. This actually establishes some trust between the servicing mission and the high value asset being serviced (assuming that it is also an US government vehicle) that commercial cannot offer.