Restoring and reusing existing materials is, as we all know, is far better than having to build something new. Normally, we're talking about doing this kind of thing with fairly ordinary objects. But a proposal to do the same thing with aging satellites could extend the life of current satellites, as well as helping to reduce the growing amount of space junk found in orbit.
MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) has a plan to develop a satellite service station to recharge and refuel already orbiting satellites. The robotic service unit would be able to replace batteries and add fuel to orbiting satellites that could potentially double or triple their working lifespan. Keeping existing satellites working would save billions of dollars in construction of new equipment.
Most satellites have not been designed with servicing in mind, so the complexities of this system could run into unanticipated obstacles. Only a couple of satellite interceptions, such as would be necessary for this to work, have ever been performed in space. However, MDA is the company behind the technology for the Canadarm robotic arm used on the space shuttles, and such a system would be an important component of any refueling. The company hopes to begin testing systems by 2013.
written by computer recycling and disposal, November 23, 2010
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