NASA Working on Robots Capable of Fixing Satellites in Space

NASA Restore-L rendering 1 photo
Photo: NASA
There are currently in excess of 4,000 satellites in Earth orbit, and more than half of them no longer work.
Today’s technology level does not allow the repairing of malfunctioning satellites on site – except for the cases when astronauts are sent out to do it. That's the case however only for extremely important machines, like the Hubble telescope.

Usually, after spending millions on developing, launching and operating a satellite, companies and governments are forced to decommission them as soon as they malfunction or run out of fuel. But what if they could be refueled and repaired?

NASA said this week it is working on a way to provide satellite servicing by using robots. The space agency is currently developing on a machine that can do just that.

NASA’s machine is a 10 by 16-foot robot that is under testing at the Goddard Space Flight Center. It practices its skills on a partial mock-up of a satellite, mounted on top of a six-legged hexapod developed by Mikrolar.

The tests being conducted are meant to perfect technologies for a rendezvous in orbit that do not require the input of humans.

In the video below NASA demonstrates how the robot could be used to capture the satellite and begin refueling or repairing.

Called Restore-L, NASA’s robot is, in fact, a handyman spacecraft. It is equipped with tools and technologies that would allow it to service even satellites that were not meant to be serviced in space.

It features two arms that are used to maneuver multifunction tools. For refueling, it will be capable of delivering the fuel at the right temperature, pressure, and rate required by each satellite.

Some of the tech currently being tested and developed for the Restore-L project will be used by NASA for its planned missions to Mars, the agency says.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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