Getting a satellite into orbit may be a challenging enough endeavor on its own, but the idea of repairing one robotically could create a whole new set of risks and rewards for space-focused industries and governments.
DARPA is championing the benefit of being able to use robotic vehicles to physically inspect and modify satellites once they’ve been launched. The agency argues that the effort could lower costs and extend the reliability and life of whatever has been put into outer space. To that end, DARPA is pushing for “clear and widely accepted technical and safety standards for responsible performance of on-orbit activities involving commercial satellites,” it said in a news release Tuesday.
The creation of the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS) would tap the space community to establish a forum of industry and government experts aimed at providing non-binding, consensus-derived technical and safety standards. These would provide “a clear technical basis for definitions and expectations of responsible behavior in outer space.”
“We’re inviting the space community to join us in creating a permanent, self-sustaining ‘one-stop shop’ where industry can collaborate and engage with the U.S. Government about on-orbit servicing, as well as drive the creation of the standards that future servicing providers will follow,” said Todd Master, DARPA program manager. “These standards would integrate data, expertise, and experience from both government and industry while protecting commercial participants’ financial and strategic interests, and provide investors, insurers, potential customers, and other stakeholders with the confidence to pursue and engage in this promising new sector.”
For those who think they might have a good idea for how all of this should work, DARPA is hosting a Proposers Day on Dec. 16 at its offices in Arlington, Va., to further clarify the program vision and answer questions from potential proposers.
DARPA encourages interested parties to seek more information through the following links:
- Advance registration: http://ow.ly/FWpy30636zs.
- Additional details: http://go.usa.gov/xkSyQ.
- Full program details, including instructions for submitting a proposal, will be made available on the Federal Business Opportunities website: http://go.usa.gov/xkhCj.
- For more information, email HR001117S0006@darpa.mil.