Monday, October 17, 2011

Robot Gas Attendants Could Keep Old Satellites Chugging | In-Space Satellite Refueling & On-Orbit Servicing | Space Junk & Orbital Debris |

An artist's conception of how the SIS mobile space gas station will refuel client satellites on orbit.

Aging or broken satellites orbiting Earth could one day get a second life from two different companies hoping to build new spacecraft designed to serve as robotic gas attendants and space mechanics.

The Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) is designing a spacecraft that will essentially function as a flying gas station for out-of-fuel satellites.

Separately, Vivisat, which is a joint venture of rocket manufacturer Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and aerospace firm U.S. Space, has proposed a vehicle capable of performing in-orbit satellite servicing.

Both spacecraft have the potential to rescue or extend the lives of satellites in orbit, which could be a game-changing technology for the industry, officials said.

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