Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Satellites For Old!

Putting a satellite in orbit is massively expensive. Far from getting cheaper as the tech aged, the cost however still hovers around 10k for every pound launched. Estimates have it that there are roughly 300 billion dollars of hardware in geosynchronous orbits with a large portion of this total non functioning hardware.

DARPA is hoping to lower satellite cost significantly. How they plan to do that is elegant in it's simplicity. DARPA wants to harvest the dead hardware, which is more than likely 90% functional, for parts and build new satellites in place.

Here is what the Dvice article wrote:
  • That 90% of stuff represents a lot of useful and expensive hardware. (the most useful) is the satellite's antenna, which represents the single biggest contributor to both functionality and launch cost. What DARPA wants to do is send a harvester satellite called Phoenix up to (harvest) things like antennas and solar panels from dead platforms and turn them into operational ... satellites. Tiny new controller modules called "satlets" will ride along with the harvester and be used to create new brains to get the ... parts all working together properly, effectively creating an entirely new satellite.
Now there is something I can get behind!

Complete article here

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