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DIU to Test Tether, Maxar, Motiv Robotic Arm Prototypes for On-Orbit Servicing Program

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The Defense Innovation Unit has announced the prototype testing of three commercially built robotic arms aimed at enabling the on-orbit servicing of U.S. satellites.

Technologies developed under the Modularity for Space Systems program will support the repair, upgrades and refueling to reduce the costs and extend the operational life of future satellites and space platforms, DIU said Monday.

Work by contractors Tethers Unlimited, Maxar Technologies and Motiv Space Systems would address the lack of methods for keeping near obsolete and deteriorating satellites running and fixing problems arising post-launch, reducing the risk of a single issue causing an expensive space mission to fail.

Rapid prototyping, development and integration of low-cost robotic arms and interfaces for future spacecraft has the potential to drastically reduce cost and increase capabilities by providing upgradeable, modular systems,” explained David Ryan, space portfolio program manager at DIU.

Following the prototyping phase, DIU and its contractors will evaluate the prototypes and related subsystems ahead of their planned introduction to the commercial market.