New Plan Takes Shape to Fashion Space Junk Into Satellites
Image: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) describes the Phoenix program: “The goal of the Phoenix program is to develop and demonstrate technologies to cooperatively harvest and re-use valuable components from retired, nonworking satellites in GEO and demonstrate the ability to create new space systems at greatly reduced cost.”
The U.S. military is moving along with plans to recycle space junk into new, working satellites. Several engineering companies announced new agreements with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency yesterday (July 25). The deals offer a glimpse into the technology to be incorporated into the final project.
DARPA is researching how to harvest working antenna, solar arrays and other parts from otherwise broken satellites that are still in geosynchronous orbit, about 22,000 miles (35,406 kilometers) above Earth. The military agency wants to build satellite “mechanics” that can go into space, remove working parts from non-working communications satellites, and then transfer the parts onto new, very small satellite base structures that DARPA calls “satlets.”