Artist’s concept of a Phoenix tender inserting a satlet in an antenna horn

DARPA video outlines progress of Phoenix satellite re-purposing project

By David Szondy
January 25, 2013

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has released a new video showing the progress of its Phoenix project, which aims at salvaging parts from defunct communications satellites to build new ones. Based on a new class of nanosatellites and a robotic “tender,” its purpose is to use repurposed satellites to construct a new communications net for the military at low cost.

One reason why operating communications satellites is so expensive is because it’s so wasteful. Currently, when a geosynchronous satellite reaches the end of its useful life, or just runs out of fuel to keep it from drifting, it’s dispatched to a “graveyard” region of space to prevent it from becoming a navigational hazard. This is unfortunate because many satellite components are still perfectly good, and it would be much cheaper to salvage antennas, solar panels and other bits from satellites already in orbit than sending new ones up from Earth.

Read more: DARPA video outlines progress of Phoenix satellite re-purposing project — gizmag.

Home           Top of page