Repairing Satellites In Orbit

you break 'em we fix 'em
Richmond - May 17, 2002
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. said Monday that the Boeing team has won the "Orbital Express" program. MDA subsidiary MD Robotics is partnered with Boeing for the development of robotics systems for this unique satellite servicing system.

In the Orbital Express program, the Boeing Phantom Works R&D unit is developing an advanced technology demonstrator of a system that will be able to autonomously service, repair, and refuel satellites while on orbit. The system's capabilities will include rendezvous and docking, free-flyer capture and berthing, satellite-to-satellite orbital replacement unit (ORU) transfer, power and data transfer, and on-orbit refueling.

MDA will provide the robotics system to capture satellites and perform servicing, a ground segment to monitor and control the robotic operations, and all ORU containers and interfaces that will become standard on future missions. The total value of this effort could be as much as $12 million (CDN).

Orbital Express has the potential to usher in a revolution in space operations, enabling new and enhanced satellite capabilities in the support of commercial space activities. The project will support national security missions, and civil and commercial space activities.

"Orbital Express is of significant strategic importance," said Mag Iskander, Vice President and General Manager of MD Robotics. "It expands MDA's robotic expertise into future military and commercial infrastructure development."

Orbital Express is funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, (DARPA), and is scheduled for launch in 2006.

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Sending In The RATs To Mars
Pasadena (JPL) Apr 30, 2002
NASA and JPL are sending RATS to Mars to work as field geologists. A RAT is not quite a furry little friend, but rather a high-tech robot with diamond teeth, called a Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT).