Hugh Pickens writes writes: "DARPA reports that more than $300 billion worth of satellites are in the geosynchronous orbit, many retired due to failure of one component even if 90% of the satellite works just as well as the day it was launched. DARPA’s Phoenix program seeks to develop technologies to cooperatively harvest and re-use valuable components such as antennas or solar arrays from retired, nonworking satellites in GEO and demonstrate the ability to create new space systems at greatly reduced cost. “If this program is successful, space debris becomes space resource,” says DARPA Director, Regina E. Dugan. However satellites in GEO are not designed to be disassembled or repaired, so it’s not a matter of simply removing some nuts and bolts says David Barnhart. “This requires new remote imaging and robotics technology and special tools to grip, cut, and modify complex systems." For a person operating such robotics, the complexity is similar to trying to assemble via remote control multiple Legos at the same time while looking through a telescope. "If you've got a satellite up there already, don't worry, this isn't going to be some illicit grave-robbing mission to create hordes of evil Frankensatellites," reports Dvice. "DARPA says the agency will make sure and get permission before it chops anything up for scrap.""
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