DARPA-Northrop Partnership Works on Robotic GEO Satellite Maintenance Platform

RSGS mission
RSGS mission

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency aims to complete a payload technology for its Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites program this year in collaboration with a Northrop Grumman subsidiary and the Naval Research Laboratory.

DARPA is responsible for supplying the RSGS payload that will fly on commercial robotic servicing spacecraft being developed by SpaceLogistics to support the mission targeted for a 2023 launch, the agency said Friday.

SpaceLogistics was selected in March to build the mission robotic vehicle bus and support technology transition efforts under the program. The agency expects NRL to complete the integration of robotic arms with the payload structure and commence  environmental tests of the hardware during 2021.

“First, the RSGS spacecraft will fly around the client spacecraft to observe from a distance," said Joseph Parrish, a program manager DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.

"Then, the RSGS spacecraft will grapple the client spacecraft to examine it at a centimeter scale. We may need to free a stuck solar array to allow a spacecraft to reach its full potential. Or we could add new sensor payloads, such as a space weather detector.

The agency projects that the robotic servicer will reach GEO within nine months of mission launch.

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