Pentagon Wants To Build Space Robots To Repair Its Spy Satellites?

First Posted: Feb 13, 2017 03:10 AM EST

Space robots, specifically designed to repair technical snags in government and private owned satellites, have been under proposition for a long time. It caught the headlines when Pentagon gave the contract of building such space robots to a subsidiary of Canadian-owned firm. However, the project hit a major roadblock when Orbital ATK raised legal issues against the contract and filed a lawsuit against it.

The space robot project was launched by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which functions under the U.S. Department of defense. DARPA envisioned the creation and application of space robotic devices that can repair technical issues in satellites as and when required.

It is speculated that, if successful, the space robots could potentially decrease the cost of operation of satellites, because often the satellite owners have to leave their satellites as dead after they encounter any technical issues. This is not only costing them way too much but also adding to the growing problem of space junk, which is emerging as a potential risk factor in the success of future space missions, The Huffington Post reported.

DARPA gave the contract of building such robots to the Space Systems Loral (SSL), which is a subsidiary of a British Columbia-based IT company named MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA).

In the meantime, Orbital ATK, another aerospace manufacturing corporation based in Virginia, which is also a fierce competitor of SSL, made an announcement that the project is illegal and went on to file a lawsuit against it, Space News reported.

Orbital ATK said that the project is in violation of the 2010 National Space Policy of the U.S., which states that government agencies cannot run space programs, which may compete with those run by private companies.

On the other hand, some others are of the opinion that the U.S. government is planning to go ahead with the program because it will be a great benefit for the National Reconnaissance Office, which is responsible for the operation of spy satellites.

Given the current situation, the commencement and successful operation of the project is highly doubtful.

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