nasa ssl robotic spacecraft to fix satellites

Nasa places order with SSL for robotic spacecraft which will fix satellites in orbit

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New craft will be used to service satellites out in space 

Nasa has placed an order with Space Systems Loral for a robotic spacecraft which will go and fix satellites while in orbit. 

Nasa calls it the Restore-L servicing mission, and it is designed to demonstrate the ability to extend the life of a satellite in Low Earth Orbit. Scheduled launch is in 2020.

The Restore-L spacecraft will use robotics to grasp, refuel and relocate an existing US government satellite already in LEO orbit with the goal of demonstrating tools, technologies and techniques that can be implemented on future government and commercial missions. 

nasa ssl robotic spacecraft to fix satellites
Artist’s illustration of the robotic spacecraft which will float around in space, fixing satellites. Picture courtesy of SSL

The SSL spacecraft bus will provide the structure and power to support the mission.  SSL will also provide critical hardware and services for development, deployment and operations including services for mission integration, test, and launch.

John Celli, president of SSL, says: “We are pleased to work with Nasa to provide a high performance spacecraft platform that will help make next generation satellite servicing a reality.

“This mission will be a breakthrough in the way we think about satellites on orbit, which previously could not be touched after launch. By using the SSL 1300 production platform as the structure and power system for the spacecraft, the mission will benefit from the high performance, reliability and value that has been proven on more than a hundred missions.”

The SSL 1300 is a large, powerful and reliable platform that has the flexibility to serve a broad range of missions ranging from space exploration to commercial communications.

With more than 80 SSL 1300s on orbit today, it is the world’s most widely used spacecraft platform and it comes with a very predictable schedule and fixed price driven by the demands of the highly competitive spacecraft market.

Restore-L is being conducted under the Technology Demonstration Mission for the Space Technology Mission Directorate and Nasa Headquarters.

SSL is also contributing to a variety of other next generation US government missions, including the Dragonfly mission for Nasa and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, which will demonstrate on orbit satellite assembly.


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