SSL pulls out of construction of RSGS robot servicing satellite for DARPA but it keeps its hand in via NASA’s Restore-L mission

by | Jan 31, 2019 | Satellites, Seradata News, Technology

SSL, the former Space Systems/Loral spacecraft construction company owned by Maxar, has decided to withdraw from its construction contract with Maxar spin-off  Space Infrastructure Services LLC (SIS) to build the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) spacecraft, and from a related Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) with US Defence and Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The original plan was that SSL would provide the spacecraft bus/platform via the SIS contract worth US$228 million.  Under the OTA, a type of Public Private partnership signed with SSL in 2017, DARPA was to develop the dexterous robotic payload and provide a government-funded launch. SSL was responsible for funding the development of the spacecraft bus and integrating the resulting robotic servicing spacecraft with the launch vehicle, as well as providing operations staff over the full mission duration.

DARPA would have access to the technology for low cost government servicing missions while SIS’s would be free to use the system for commercial satellite refuelling.  DARPA is providing the robotic arms via the US Naval Research Lab.

RSGS concept. Courtesy: SSL

Initially the spacecraft was to be used capture a US government GEO spacecraft and remove and replace its antenna system using the robot arm. The spacecraft would then be moved on to multiple refuelling missions, starting with an SES satellite as part of a demonstration contract signed in 2017. The RSGS spacecraft was going to be launched in 2021 having already been delayed from 2019.

While SSL has now withdrawn from this project, nevertheless, SSL is keeping its hand in spacecraft refuelling technologies as it retains its contract with NASA for the construction of the Restore-L mission which will be a demonstration of LEO spacecraft servicing using the old Landsat-7 as a “client” satellite.

Comment by David Todd:  Cost is declared to be Maxar’s primary motivation for withdrawal this project – Maxar needed the money for its other space projects including the WorldView Legion constellation especially since the loss of the WorldView 4 imaging spacecraft. The decision also chimes with Maxar’s plan to reduce its interests in GEO satellite manufacture.

Space News (Sandra Erwin) gives a recommended more detailed view on this story here

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

About Rob Coppinger

Rob Coppinger is a recovering powerpoint user and engineer who mistakenly thought journalism was more glamorous than production engineering. He Read more

T+1 as Hyperbola launches itself far, far above the blogosphere

All things spaceflight industry get linked too and commented on in Hyperbola, the new blog from Flight's technical reporter Rob Read more

On-orbit propellant fever!!

Hyperbola is a technology orientated spaceflight blog from Flight technical reporter Rob Coppinger.

NASA gives public a new Dawn

Hyperbola is a technology orientated blog by flight technical reporter Rob Coppinger

While you’re waiting for that next Shuttle launch…

Hyperbola is a technology orientated spaceflight blog by Flight's technical reporter Rob Coppinger

Romania in space

Hyperbola is a technology orientated spaceflight blog by Flight technical reporter Rob Coppinger

Sputnik week’s first few news bites

Hyperbola is a technology orientated spaceflight blog by Flight technical reporter Rob Coppinger

News bites once more in this historic Sputnik week

Hyperbola is a technology orientated spaceflight blog by Flight's technical reporter Rob Coppinger

Categories

Archives