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NASA Space Technology

NASA Developing Robotic Satellite Refueling System 30

coondoggie (973519) writes "Refueling aging satellites that were never meant to be refueled is the goal with a emerging NASA system that could save millions. NASA this week said since April 2011, engineers have been working to build robotic satellite servicing technologies necessary to bring in-orbit inspection, repair, refueling, component replacement and assembly capabilities to spacecraft needing aid."
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NASA Developing Robotic Satellite Refueling System

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  • Nice, when can we productize this and have those robots refuel our cars while we drive?

  • And the concept, that robots and satellites especially, could continue their work, after Earth flames out, is animating.
  • by NEDHead ( 1651195 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:32PM (#46894709)

    NASA is in charge of our Robotic OVERlords!!

  • It's fantastic that you can get that mileage in a car that is inconvenient, small, terrible range. BMW didn't win anything other than an aerodynamics and weight contest. I saw a Tesla Model S competing quite well on the 1/4 mile against Porche, Audi, and.. yeah It smoked a BMW M3 (I am assuming due to driver error). The key was it was quite a capable machine that after a full day of racing drove home and got 75 MPG on the freeway back to the drivers house.
  • This is why I put at least a Clamp-O-Tron Jr. on everything I launch.
  • A nation that is willing to think will be doing space exploration autonomously.

    Losing machinery is normally a zero PR problem,

    and the absence of cumbersome life support and resupplying issues make present day unmanned-missions the smart bet.

    • A nation that is willing to think will be doing space exploration autonomously.
      Losing machinery is normally a zero PR problem,

      Zero Compared to what? Despite their small stature, lots of folks do care if rovers die. Really though, you're thinking far too small: How much of a "PR problem" will it be to have to tell everyone that they are the last generation of humanity? Thinking doesn't describe the action I'm largely observing. Yes, you'll need autonomous systems, who wouldn't, but I wouldn't call visiting landmarks in Google Earth a vacation, and I wouldn't call doing the same while sitting on your ass in a control room "expl

  • How will they manage satellite "meant to be refueled". If there is no accessible opening to inject fuel, that seems difficult. Are they going to unscrew or unbolt parts?
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      never meant to be refueled


      Remember the mission to repair Hubble? [] Where the hand rail bolts got stuck and they had to break it off? Good luck getting a robot to figure that out.

      I can see robotic refueling working if the satellite is designed for it. Like aerial refueling with a purpose-built port and valves. Not if the robot needs to be a shade-tree mechanic.

    • by Lotana ( 842533 )

      If I remember correctly, one of the primary design purposes of the Shuttle was to retrieve satellites from orbit.

      Apparently this requirement was so rare, that it hardly ever flew just for this reason.

  • NASA has no heavy lift rockets
    NASA has no remotely feasible plans for heavy lift rockets.

    This isn't a real plan, this is just NASA jerking off.

    • NASA has no heavy lift rockets.

      France has.

      They are quite happy to let NASA buy a launch on an Ariane 5. It'll do twenty-one tons to LEO.

  • One of the companies involved in this refueling effort [] is the PTR Group. Their chief scientist, Mike Anderson, gave several very interesting presentations at the Embedded Linux Conference / Android Builders Summit earlier this week. Although his presentations were not directly related to the satellite servicing mission, he did say that they are involved in an effort to try and refuel a geostationary weather satellite before the end of this year.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen