Space Systems/Loral has been awarded a DARPA contract to study on-orbit robotic assembly of geostationary communications satellites.
DARPA’s Dragonfly project aims for self-assembling satellites that will put themselves together in orbit after being stored on a launch vehicle, according to a Space Systems/Loral news release. The focus will be on installation and reconfiguration of large radio frequency (RF) antenna reflectors, especially satellites that are too large to be carried as a normal payload on launch vehicles.
The study begins with a five-month initial assessment phase, followed by a ground demonstration and a flight application.
An earlier DARPA program called Phoenix set the stage for Dragonfly. The Phoenix program aimed to reduce the cost of space-based systems by developing robotics and new technology to repair, reuse and assemble new architectures in space.